by Brian A. Wilkins
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) and former county
attorney Andrew Thomas.
The federal criminal investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may be nearing completion, and there may literally be a new sheriff in town in the coming weeks.
A source very close to the federal grand jury proceedings told us they believe the FBI will take receivership of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office by the end of this month. Receivership is basically a court-ordered takeover of subject property and/or offices used to preserve any and all evidence which may be used against someone involved in a criminal or civil prosecution. The source also told us that the grand jury proceedings are ongoing, that they are in constant contact with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice, and that witnesses testified in front of the grand jury as recently as two weeks ago.
Another source within Maricopa County has also told us that Loretta Barkell, the chief executive of business operations at the sheriff’s office is “missing in action.” We’re told she has not been to work for the past 10 days, cleaned out her desk and is not answering anyone’s phone calls, as she’s apparently in hiding to avoid Arpaio and his chief deputy Dave Hendershott; or she simply is on the run, fearing being arrest by the feds. But another source believes she spoke with the federal grand jury and now fears for her life.
I believe this would be an unprecedented move by the feds, as far as them taking over an entire sheriff’s or police department due to an ongoing criminal investigation against the chief executive (in this case Arpaio). This cannot be good news for former Maricopa County attorney and current Arizona Attorney General candidate Andrew Thomas either. The facts that Thomas is also involved in the misspending spree of the federal RICO funds in question (like Hendershott buying a home in Honduras with said funds), and that he and Arpaio are BFFs can only lead us to believe Thomas will be on the same chopping block. Thomas is also being investigated by the Arizona State Bar and may lose his license to practice law, due to his corrupt, illegal practices.
We will continue to update this story as we learn more.