Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his onetime deputy, Lisa Aubuchon, will be disbarred effective May 10 by the Arizona ethics panel for failed corruption probes. Thomas worked closely with Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is also under investigation.
A three-member panel found Thomas violated professional rules of conduct for lawyers in bringing unfounded criminal charges against two county officials and a judge in December 2009.
In six years as the top prosecutor in Maricopa County, he stood side-by-side with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and earned a reputation as an aggressive and ambitious politician. A pair of conservative warriors in a Republican stronghold, the two teamed up to push for tougher treatment of illegal immigrants and to pursue what they saw as widespread corruption by local government officials.
But somewhere in the process, according to ethics investigators who scrutinized his actions in recent years, Thomas became obsessed with his political enemies. With Arpaio’s help, he targeted them with criminal investigations, had some of them arrested and some charged with crimes. The evidence he and Arpaio used in the process was often questionable. The charges rarely stuck.
Sandra Castro of Puente Arizona, a human rights organization released the following comment:
“Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio worked together to intimidate anyone who may have been able to stop the Sheriff’s heinous crimes. Today’s news is more evidence of democratic principles of government being trampled in pursuit of Arpaio’s immigrant hysteria. We’re ready for a new day in Arizona. The net is closing around the Sheriff as another of his collaborators’ misconduct is exposed. Restoring justice in Maricopa County won’t be complete until the Sheriff himself is brought to justice. The investigation into Thomas should serve as a warning to the rest of Arpaio’s backers. It’s time to cut ties or share the Sheriff’s inevitable fate behind bars.”