Latino groups on Tuesday called for authorities to zero in on Sheriff Joe Arpaio after his former right-hand man and longtime political ally was stripped of his license to practice law as part of a wide-ranging investigation that raised questions about whether the two of them had abused their law enforcement powers.
Ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas was disbarred after a lengthy investigation by the State Bar of Arizona. A three-member panel ruled that Thomas misused his power as a prosecutor to target people who were seen as political enemies of him and Arpaio. The investigation showed that Arpaio was heavily involved in the conduct.
"Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Arpaio worked together to intimidate anyone who may have been able to stop the sheriff's heinous crimes," said Sandra Castro of Puente Arizona, an immigrant rights group that has long been critical of Arpaio. "Restoring justice in Maricopa County won't be complete until the sheriff himself is brought to justice."
Similarly, members of a Republican Latino group said the disbarment was only the first step in the path to justice.
"We look forward to justice for Joe Arpaio, who has not yet been indicted or charged in this scandal, though clearly he is a central figure in this repugnant behavior," said a statement released by Cafe Con Leche Republicans. "This ugly chapter in Arizona history will not be closed until Joe Arpaio is also held accountable for his utterly disgraceful conduct."
Arpaio and his spokesmen declined to answer specific questions about the calls from the Latino groups. Instead, he released only a brief written statement about his longtime ally.
"Today's decision no doubt is a disappointment to Andrew Thomas, his family and his colleagues," Arpaio said. "He was a hard working professional who served the people of this county for many years."