Ariz. sheriff: Federal probe 'unethical'

June 2, 2009 at 9:23 PM
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PHOENIX, June 2 (UPI) -- A high-profile Arizona sheriff has accused the U.S. Justice Department of a "political" investigation into the way he handles the cases of illegal immigrants.

Joe Arpaio, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, has been sheriff in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, since 1992. He calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" and has become famous for initiatives like giving pink underwear to inmates at the county jail.

In a press release Monday, Arpaio and his lawyers attacked the federal investigation, The Arizona Republic said. Arpaio said he is "certain this investigation is not about justice but rather about a new Washington D.C. administration that wants Arpaio to do things the president's way, for the president's purposes."

In a letter last week, Arpaio's lawyers accused the Justice Department of a "violation of ethical standards." Federal lawyers notified him in March they were investigating whether he targeted Hispanics illegally in a vigorous campaign to arrest illegal immigrants.

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