An Arizona Supreme Court disciplinary panel ordered the disbarment Tuesday of two former Maricopa County prosecutors closely tied to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the subject of an ongoing federal investigation focusing on possible abuses of power.
In a 247-page report, the judiciary panel said it found repeated evidence of ethical misconduct and potentially criminal offenses committed by former county attorney Andrew Thomas and his chief deputy, Lisa Aubuchon, according to a report in The Arizona Republic
The panel ordered Thomas and Aubuchon to surrender their law licenses because of their participation in an alleged vendetta against Thomas’ and Arpaio’s political enemies — including Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe — from 2006 to 2010.
The report mentioned Arpaio repeatedly but recommended no actions against him. But that didn’t stop the sheriff’s critics from taking aim at him.
“This report basically says that Arpaio and [former Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff David] Hendershott, along with Thomas and Aubuchon, were involved in a conspiracy to muzzle a sitting judge,” Chris Herstam, a former Republican state representative and political analyst told Tucson’s 12 News Television. “I don’t think they’ve heard the end of this.”
The report cited Arpaio at one point for allegedly conspiring with Thomas to initiate racketeering cases against judges and county officials who didn’t always agree with their approach to law enforcement.
The panel report referred to the cases as “nothing short of . . . fumbling with the law, like children wielding a buzzing chainsaw, cutting off Thomas’ political opponents at the knees.”
Thomas and Aubuchon are expected to appeal to the state Supreme Court to have their disbarments and other sanctions overturned.
Meanwhile, federal authorities declined to comment on the panel’s findings or how its report might impact the ongoing probe of sheriff Arpaio and his office.
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