New U.S. Attorney staying away from MCSO investigations

August 15, 2012

John Leonardo, who was sworn in last month as the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, says he won’t take part in any criminal investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Steve Goldstein reports.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Leonardo took over from interim U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, who had filled the position since the resignation of Dennis Burke last summer. Leonardo says his predecessor will take the lead if the office is involved in any criminal investigation of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his agency.

JOHN LEONARDO: I have personally recused myself from participating in any decision or even the information stream within the office that may relate to any such investigation because of my ruling as a judge that touched on the Sheriff’s Department earlier. So, just to avoid any possible appearance of being biased or prejudiced, I’m just not going to be involved.

GOLDSTEIN: In 2010, when Leonardo was a Pima County Superior Court Judge, he presided over a case involving Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Leonardo dismissed an indictment against Wilcox and concluded that Arpaio had, in the judge’s words, misused the power of his office.