Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, accused earlier this year of abuse of power for threatening to deport a Mexican illegal immigrant he was having a relationship with, will not be facing charges, Solicitor General Dave Cole announced Friday.
The announcement comes less than 72 hours after the openly gay Babeu won Tuesday’s Republican primary election over three Republican challengers — Derek Arnson, Tom Bearup and Jack McClaren.
Babeu, who was the first Republican sheriff elected in Pinal County in 2008, will face Democrat Kevin Taylor and independent Ty Morgan in the November general election.
Cole said he oversaw a seven-month investigation into Babeu and the allegations after Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne was screened from the process to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, according to a statement from Cole’s office.
Earlier this year, Babeu asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate claims made by Babeu’s former boyfriend, Jose Orozco, who accused Babeu of abuse of authority, threats, and intimidation. In addition, Babeu accused Orozco of theft of property and identity theft stemming from Orozco’s handling of Babeu-related websites and Twitter accounts.
Pictures of Babeu and Orozco also had surfaced on a gay website. Orozco had been paid to work on Babeu’s congressional campaign.
“The Attorney General’s Office will not file charges against either Babeu or Orozco,” Cole said in an office-issued statement “The investigation determined that Babeu did not commit any criminal violations and further concluded that, although Orozco conducted himself in a manner that may constitute a violation of the law, there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction on anything more than a misdemeanor charge. It would be an inappropriate use of already-limited resources to prosecute Orozco for a misdemeanor.”
On Friday, Babeu continued to contend that the allegations against him were false and he knew he would be exonerated all along.
In a statement issued by Babeu, he said, “I knew how this would end, because I knew the truth, yet I had to prove my innocence. Today, I’m fully cleared of these false attacks designed to ruin me. Some in the media worked their agenda hard to prove me guilty, regardless of the facts. In America, everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, yet I had to prove my innocence. The 400,000 citizens that I serve saw through these election year attacks and media sensationalism. The fact that I’m gay doesn’t matter. I want to be judged by the value I add to my community, by my performance and results. We won 42 percent more votes than my closest opponent in the Republican primary. The people who know me best, know we’ve done an exceptional job as Sheriff and that these allegations were false.”
Adnan Horan, the lawyer representing Orozco, was unavailable for comment on Friday.
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