PHOENIX - The federal abuse-of-power investigation into America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff may have been closed without criminal charges but Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's legal troubles are far from over.
A civil case brought by a small group of Latinos who accuse Arpaio's office of systematically racially profiling is awaiting a verdict from an Arizona-based federal judge.
The U.S. Department of Justice has also sued the sheriff for alleged constitutional violations including racial profiling, retaliating against Arpaio critics, punishing Latino jail inmates with limited English skills for speaking Spanish and failing to adequately investigate a large number of sex-crimes cases. No trial date in that case has been set.
The Justice Department announced late Friday that it would not pursue criminal charges against the sheriff or his office, or against former Maricopa County top prosecutor Andrew Thomas and a top Thomas aide, Lisa Aubuchon, for abuse of power.
Thomas and Aubuchon were disbarred by the state Supreme Court earlier this year after an ethics panel decided they brought criminal charges against two county officials and a judge in December 2009 with the purpose of embarrassing them. The cases were investigated by Arpaio's now-closed anti-public corruption squad.
Thomas was a longtime Arpaio ally.
Authorities were investigating Arpaio for his part in failed public corruption cases against officials who were odds with him. The sheriff brought cases against a judge and two county officials in 2009 and Thomas prosecuted them.