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New lawsuit alleges Arpaio retaliation against birther critic’s family

photo of Joe Arpaio with dogs in front of cell doorYet another federal lawsuit is being filed against embattled Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, alleging abuse of process and malicious prosecution. This suit is brought by Austin Flake, son of Senator Jeff Flake, and his wife Logan. The Flakes state in their complaint:

11. Previous to June 2014, Senator Flake had publicly voiced opinions critical of the so-called “birther” movement, of which Defendant Arpaio is a prominent member. Arpaio conducted a bogus six-month investigation into the birthplace of the President of the United States, which culminated in him publicly announcing that “probable cause exist[ed]” to accuse the President of the United States of forgery and fraud.1

then:

13. In summer and fall of 2014, Defendant Arpaio and the MCSO illegally investigated and pressed felony charges against Plaintiffs without probable cause, and in violation of their constitutional rights.

The Flakes allege that this prosecution was intended, in part, to damage Senator Flake, who was running for re-election. The allegations are quite serious, including conspiracy to lie to a grand jury, and providing misinformation to the prosecution. And of course, Sheriff Joe held a press conference.

The lawsuit has been threatened for some time; for example, see this article from last February in the Phoenix New Times. Not all public reaction to the Flakes has been sympathetic, especially because the original issue involved the deaths of some animals.

The charges against the Flakes were eventually dropped.

Read more:


1Arpaio did not actually accuse the President personally of forgery, saying only that the President’s birth certificate was forged by someone unnamed.

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35 Responses to New lawsuit alleges Arpaio retaliation against birther critic’s family

  1. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    The amount of damages is not listed in the complaint, but previous press reports mentioned $8 million.

  2. avatar
    Curious George June 22, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    The pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger. How anyone in their right mind could support this scofflaw is beyond me.

  3. avatar
    bgansel9 June 22, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    When I post a link to this article on Facebook, I get a link and the description says “Error 404 – Page Not Found” – it still goes to the article, but it look like it shouldn’t.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 22, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    When did this happen? I took the article down for like 10 minutes right after publication to check some details. If it still fails, my guess is that you didn’t get the whole URL.

    I just tried a Facebook link to it, and it worked.

    bgansel9:
    When I post a link to this article on Facebook, I get a link and the description says “Error 404 – Page Not Found”– it still goes to the article, but it look like it shouldn’t.

  5. avatar
    bgansel9 June 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    It was about an hour ago. I’ll remove the one I had and try it again. Thanks.

  6. avatar
    bgansel9 June 22, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    I still get the error, take a look at it on my wall.

  7. avatar
    Pete June 22, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

    The amount of damages is not listed in the complaint, but previous press reports mentioned $8 million…

    The pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger. How anyone in their right mind could support this scofflaw is beyond me.

    “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!”

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 7:16 am #

    Not a clue.

    bgansel9:
    I still get the error, take a look at it on my wall.

  9. avatar
    scott e June 23, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    again the author of the times story is the flake. it’s funny though to see the pnt now and then.
    i’m a dog person, so i’d like to hear more about the broken air conditioner.

    some people cooked in a sauna tent out west there somewhere. doc how about some more writing on judge snow, what’s he going to do ? it’s a real stretch to tie this to birther.

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Did you read the complaint?

    http://media.phoenixnewtimes.com/10488117.0.pdf

    scott e: so i’d like to hear more about the broken air conditioner.

    Yup.

    scott e: it’s a real stretch to tie this to birther.

  11. avatar
    scott e June 23, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    again the author of the times story is the flake. it’s funny though to see the pnt now and then.
    i’m a dog person, so i’d like to hear more about the broken air conditioner.

    some people cooked in a sauna tent out west there somewhere. doc how about some more writing on judge snow, what’s he going to do ? it’s a real stretch to tie this to birther.

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Did you read the complaint?

    http://media.phoenixnewtimes.com/10488117.0.pdf

    Yup.

    did you read the dog story ? yet those hughses seem like such swell people.

    i’m not sure you’ve told both sides of the story here, i find this to be very interesting, i may even write about it someday. but since you and lemons have pointed this at sheriff joe, it’s successfully landed square in the birther arena. as i say, i don’t think anyone is going to win the peta vote with this. i’d still like to hear about the broken air conditioner, you know, if the was one.

  12. avatar
    scott e June 23, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    let’s open aunt dora’s box with this one dc.

    http://beforeitsnews.com/obama-birthplace-controversy/2015/06/obama-birth-certificate-obots-and-the-phoenix-new-times-2490880.html

    before we’re all tuckered out.

  13. avatar
    Pete June 23, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    Defendant Arpaio has a long history of abusing his office to conduct investigations and/or press charges without probable cause, whether for spite or publicity. His targets have ranged from ordinary people like a mailman or a police officer, to respected public officials like judges and their family.
    13. In summer and fall of 2014, Defendant Arpaio and the MCSO illegally investigated and pressed felony charges against Plaintiffs without probable cause, and in violation of their constitutional rights.
    14. Defendant Arpaio has made statements that he loves this case, and others like it, because the more he publicizes them, the more money that he receives in campaign contributions.
    15. Defendant Arpaio knew that the Flake name would garner publicity, and publicized the criminal case against the Flakes heavily.

    At Defendant Arpaio’s direction, the MCSO intentionally and/or knowingly lied to the grand jury, and presented a theory of the case that was unsupported by reasonably trustworthy facts and circumstances.
    21. At Defendant Arpaio’s direction, the MCSO knowingly provided misinformation to the prosecution, omitted relevant information, and concealed exculpatory evidence.
    22. These actions directly resulted in the wrongful indictment of Plaintiffs, and pretrial deprivation of their constitutional rights without probable cause, in violation of their clearly established federal constitutional rights. As a result, their reputations have been immeasurably harmed.

    In June of last year, Austin and Logan Flake were house sitting for Logan’s parents, who operated a kennel. Around midnight, the kennel air conditioning failed – due to no fault by Austin and Logan – and 21 dogs (including the family pet) subsequently died of heat stroke. Austin and Logan discovered the breakdown early in the morning, but it was already too late.

    36. The information then known to the MCSO did not support a reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed.
    37. There was never any genuine doubt that the air conditioning had failed, directly leading to the dogs’ deaths.
    38. On July 18th, two days after the MCSO received the SRP report, Defendant Arpaio asked Attorney General Tom Horne, whom he was supporting for re-election, if Horne’s office could potentially handle the case.
    39. By law, Defendant Arpaio was required to send his cases to the Maricopa County Attorney.
    40. Upon information and belief, Defendant Arpaio asked Attorney General Horne about handling the case because Arpaio believed that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office would reject it, given that there was no probable cause to suspect the commission of a crime.
    41. On September 9, 2014, Defendant Arpaio held a press conference to publicly announce that he was recommending that Austin and Logan Flake be charged with 21 felony counts of animal cruelty.
    42. This conference served absolutely no valid law enforcement purpose, and was held in violation of both police and prosecutorial ethics.
    43. Upon information and belief, Arpaio publicly recommended charges because he intended to pressure the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office into bringing charges, and to garner publicity for himself.
    44. Defendant Arpaio lacked probable cause to recommend or press felony charges against the Flakes.
    45. By law, animal cruelty can only be a felony if the offender “intentionally” or “knowingly” committed a crime. Even misdemeanor animal cruelty requires, at the minimum, that the offender act with a “reckless” level of intent, which is defined as “that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk.”
    46. Defendant Arpaio lacked any evidence to show that the Flakes acted with the requisite level of intent to commit animal cruelty. There was no evidence that the Flakes intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly meant to harm any animal or otherwise violate the animal cruelty statute.
    47. Defendant Arpaio intended to signal to the media and public that the charges had merit, in order to pressure the prosecution to bring charges without probable cause. Arpaio knew that prosecutors would be accused of dropping the case because of the Flake name, rather than the complete lack of probable cause and criminal intent.

    So Arpaio got Austin and Logan flake FALSELY charged with 21 felonies.

    52. At Defendant Arpaio’s direction, Detective Marie Trombi knowingly provided misinformation to the prosecutor, omitted relevant information, and concealed exculpatory evidence.
    53. The prosecutor called Detective Marie Trombi to testify before the grand jury.
    54. At Defendant Arpaio’s direction, Detective Trombi lied to the grand jury, and intentionally or knowingly presented a theory of the case that was unsupported by reasonably trustworthy facts and circumstances.
    55. The MCSO presented a case to the grand jury that the air conditioning never shut down; that the kennel in which the dogs were kept was always kept at “100 degrees”; and therefore that the Flakes intentionally caused serious injury to the animals by putting them in the room.

    That was after the MCSO checked the electricity records, which showed a large and unusual drop in electricity consumption at the house around midnight on the night in question, and after the MCSO hired an air conditioning expert who told them the air conditioner had failed due to the owners’ long-term failure to change the filters.

    In other words, Arpaio had the Flakes falsely arrested, falsely charged with 21 felonies, and railroaded them by presenting false testimony – all for his own personal political benefit.

    56. During the grand jury proceedings, the prosecutor conducting the proceedings asked Detective Trombi if the HVAC investigator’s report indicated that the air conditioning was working.
    57. Detective Trombi falsely stated that the investigators’ report indicated that the air conditioning “was working.”
    58. In fact, the actual report stated at the top of the first page that it was “very likely” that the unit failed “completely.”
    59. The prosecutor twice asked Detective Trombi if the records from SRP showed that the air was “working fine all night.” Detective Trombi twice answered, “yes.”
    60. A grand juror specifically asked Detective Trombi if the SRP records showed that “the air was working and on” during the night of the incident. Detective Trombi repeatedly answered in the affirmative:
    GRAND JUROR: I’d like to clarify also. So the air was working and on until 5:30 that morning when he tried to fix it, Austin Flake tried to fix it, correct? That’s what SRP said?
    THE WITNESS: That’s going by the SRP records, yes.
    GRAND JUROR: That it was on?
    THE WITNESS: It was on, all night.
    GRAND JUROR: All night?
    THE WITNESS: All night.
    GRAND JUROR: Thank you.
    61. The MCSO knew that this was false, and that it was directly contradicted by clear evidence.
    62. The only other witness in the grand jury proceedings was a veterinarian who worked for the MCSO named Bernard Mangone. Mangone testified that no food was found in the dogs’ stomachs, and implied that the dogs were not fed. He withheld that he had determined that the dogs showed no actual signs of malnourishment, i.e. that they were in “good flesh,” as he had written in his report. He also failed to testify that the lack of food in their stomachs was easily explained by the dogs vomiting and defecating while they died of heat stroke—also accounting for why the room was full of feces and vomit when they were found.

    Have you ever been falsely arrested, Scott? Have you ever had your life ruined by someone in power, when you had done nothing wrong? You should try it some time.

    63. Based on the MCSO’s material lies and omissions, the grand jury indicted the Flakes for 21 felony counts of animal cruelty, and 6 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, on Tuesday, October 14, 2014.
    64. Because of the Indictment, Austin Flake was suspended from Brigham Young University.
    65. The Flakes were fingerprinted and their mugshots taken, which quickly spread through the media.
    66. Arpaio and the MCSO intentionally and widely publicized the Flakes’ indictment, causing irreparable harm to their lives and reputations.
    68. On December 2, 2014, the Flakes’ counsel filed a Motion to Dismiss and Remand the Indictment based on the MCSO’s material lies and omissions to the grand jury.
    69. After an investigation into the grand jury proceedings and the circumstances alleged in the Motion, the County Attorney’s Office moved to voluntarily dismiss the case on December 23, 2014.
    70. At a press conference, the County Attorney remarked: “[i]t’s not a complex decision. It’s rather straightforward and easy for us to make – if our goal is to ensure that we arrive at a just result.”
    71. On May 6th, 2015, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced that it had indicted Logan’s parents, but that it would not pursue a re-indictment of the Flakes.

    In other words, Logan’s parents were guilty of negligence by not changing the air filters. But there had never been any probable cause in the first place to charge Austin and Logan with anything.

    They were arrested and charged with 21 felonies, and had their lives ruined – which also resulted in their divorce – solely for the political benefit of Joe Arpaio.

    And from the complaint, it sounds very much like Austin and Logan have plenty of evidence to back this up.

    If this were the sole instance of Arpaio pulling something like this, it would be bad enough. The fact is, this lawsuit is only the tip of the iceberg. This has been his pattern of behavior over the past 22 years. False arrests, lies, harassment of people for his own political benefit or simply because they opposed his lawlessness.

    It is, in fact, the same pattern as with Obama’s birth certificate. Hey, here’s something that could raise me a few million. Let’s fake some evidence and announce that we’ve found that the President’s birth certificate is “fake.”

    Arpaio is an evil man. You’re a supporter of this evil man, and others like him. That makes you an evil man too, Scott. Even if he’s a big evil and you’re only a small evil. You’re still evil, because of what you support.

  14. avatar
    Pete June 23, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    : it’s a real stretch to tie this to birther.

    I respectfully disagree with the statement, “it’s a real stretch to tie this to birther.”

    This case, along with many others, illustrates the behavior of Joe Arpaio as well as others who have fueled the birther movement.

    The prosecution of Austin and Logan Flake was a total scam, conducted by Arpaio under the color of law, that cared nothing whether it destroyed the lives of the victims, that was conducted solely for the personal benefit of Mr. Arpaio and those close to him.

    This is exactly what Arpaio’s press conferences announcing false conclusions and faked evidence regarding the President’s birth certificate were.

    It’s also the exact same behavior from Jerome Corsi and WND, from Mario Apuzzo, from Leo Donofrio, and from others who have led the birther movement.

    Yes, there are some birthers (like Orly) who are nuts enough to believe the nonsense they’re spouting.

    I seriously doubt that’s the case with Apuzzo and Donofrio, and it obviously isn’t with Corsi, who’s been caught in other frauds as well.

  15. avatar
    Pete June 23, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    So there we have the birther movement: A mixture of unfortunate nutjobbery, and outright self-serving, evil fraud.

  16. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    So you cite your own article. The article is almost as vacuous as the comments you make here.

    The point is not whether the dogs were harmed or not (they were), but who was responsible. You may be exhibiting the backwards birther logic that goes, the dogs were harmed, therefore someone who criticizes Arpaio must be guilty of it.

    I don’t doubt that Arpaio’s defense (assuming the County doesn’t settle) will try to point to the horrific death of the dogs, but as a matter of law (according to the complaint), the Flakes were not responsible, and Arpaio knew it but pushed prosecution of them anyway.

    scott e: let’s open aunt dora’s box with this one dc.

  17. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    You wrote a lot, but dodged my question of whether you had read the complaint or not. Did you read the complaint?

    http://media.phoenixnewtimes.com/10488117.0.pdf

    scott e: did you read the dog story ? yet those hughses seem like such swell people.

  18. avatar
    bob June 23, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    scott e:
    let’s open aunt dora’s box with this one dc.

    http://beforeitsnews.com/obama-birthplace-controversy/2015/06/obama-birth-certificate-obots-and-the-phoenix-new-times-2490880.html

    BIN asks the all-important question, “Is Lemons an Obot?”. Yet “obot” is a made-up word; it has no meaning.

  19. avatar
    Curious George June 23, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    scott e once again proves he’s a birther troll.

  20. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    BIN is just a republisher. scott e, it appears, wrote the article.

    bob: BIN asks the all-important question

  21. avatar
    Curious George June 23, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy
    June 23, 2015

    “BIN is just a republisher. scott e, it appears, wrote the article.”

    Complete with all lower case letters.

  22. avatar
    scott e June 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    You wrote a lot, but dodged my question of whether you had read the complaint or not. Did you read the complaint?

    http://media.phoenixnewtimes.com/10488117.0.pdf

    at this point i think i know the story better than you do. that link was a courtesy, i also twittered to your stephen lemons. don’t want you guys left out of the loop. as i say, i am a dog person, i have donated to the az. animal league for years.

    i don’t think the word fraud got mentioned…

  23. avatar
    scott e June 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    bob: BIN asks the all-important question, “Is Lemons an Obot?”. Yet “obot” is a made-up word; it has no meaning.

    maybe it will now…

  24. avatar
    roadburner June 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    this was posted by user `washimericom’ over on BR….

    “here is yet another bizarre obot/pandora political affectation. i used to to wonder why kevin and his cult keep using the phoenix new times and stephen lemons as a primary source.

    i just put this up while we’re at it with the persecution of arpaio.
    http://beforeitsnews.com/obama-birthplace-controv

    not really for dog lovers or the faint of heart.

    davidson will never allow this part on his site, but i know those obots are here… lurking, always watching, spinning, culting around. ”

    i left a post saying that it had been posted here for several hours prior to washimericom posting it there, but not surprisingly, the post didn’t make it through moderation.

    bob has me SOOO blocked for the last months!

    the lack of opposing voices getting through over there seems to be a great indication of bob’s desperation to keep what is left of birtherism alive.

  25. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    That’s twice that you’ve ducked the question of whether or not you have read the complaint. Have you read the complaint?

    http://media.phoenixnewtimes.com/10488117.0.pdf

    Until you answer this, I’m not approving any other comments from you.

    scott e: at this point i think i know the story better than you do. t

  26. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    If it’s good enough for the Wikipedia…

    roadburner: kevin and his cult keep using the phoenix new times and stephen lemons as a primary source

  27. avatar
    bob June 23, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    scott e: maybe it will now…

    Nope: “obot” has always been gibberish; your use of it demonstrates that point nicely.

  28. avatar
    Pete June 23, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: The article is almost as vacuous as the comments you make here.

    I actually entertained some forlorn idea that Scott might actually be a human being, until I went and read his stupid little article.

    The point is not whether the dogs were harmed or not (they were), but who was responsible… I don’t doubt that Arpaio’s defense (assuming the County doesn’t settle) will try to point to the horrific death of the dogs, but as a matter of law (according to the complaint), the Flakes were not responsible, and Arpaio knew it but pushed prosecution of them anyway.

    Logan Flake’s parents obviously should’ve done a better job of maintenance. They were negligent, and that resulted in the horrific death by heat stroke of the dogs.

    And yes, the Flakes were not responsible, and Arpaio knew it. Still he pushed that they be prosecuted for 21 felony counts of a crime they never committed.

    Scott doesn’t seem to get that prosecuting an innocent person, and ruining that person’s life, for your own political gain, is both wrong and downright evil.

    And he doesn’t get it because he doesn’t want to.

    Because ultimately, that’s the kind of person Scott is.

  29. avatar
    Pete June 23, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    In fact, if you take the exact same dead dogs, and arrest Scott (who had nothing to do with it) and prosecute him for 21 counts of felony animal abuse, and force him to fight for his life and future in court, and force him to establish his innocence at great personal and financial expense, that is almost precisely what Arpaio did.

    Why? For the sake of his own political gain.

  30. avatar
    Pete June 23, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    I should add: What Logan’s parents failed to do with the air conditioner was a matter of negligence. What Arpaio and his cronies did to innocent bystanders Austin and Logan Flake was done in cold blood.

  31. avatar
    Rickey June 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    scott e:

    did you read the dog story ? yet those hughses seem like such swell people.

    Is anyone here defending Mr. and Mrs. Hughes?

    If you believe that Arpaio was justified in arresting Austin and Logan Flake, please tell us SPECIFICALLY what they did wrong.

    You do know what the word “specifically” means, right?

  32. avatar
    Northland10 June 24, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Pete: And yes, the Flakes were not responsible, and Arpaio knew it. Still he pushed that they be prosecuted for 21 felony counts of a crime they never committed.

    Scott doesn’t seem to get that prosecuting an innocent person, and ruining that person’s life, for your own political gain, is both wrong and downright evil.

    And he doesn’t get it because he doesn’t want to.

    Because ultimately, that’s the kind of person Scott is.

    Years ago, I was in some online debate about innocent people bring convicted due to overzealous prosecutors trying to win convictions at all costs. There was some commentor arguing that convicting some innocent people was acceptable if it prevented the guilt from going free. We repeatedly tried to explain that every time an innocent person was convicted, the guilty person actually went free. That argument was completely lost on him. His only measure of success was more convictions.

    He is part of Arpaio’s target audience.

  33. avatar
    Pete June 24, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    I’d like to see Scott falsely arrested and falsely prosecuted with 21 felony counts, with the whole thing widely broadcast through the media (including press conferences), when he’s totally innocent and the law enforcement agency behind his prosecution knew he was innocent the entire time.

    I’d like to know how he feels about such a thing after having personally experienced it.

    Would he be able to see Arpaio’s evil then? I tend to think he would.

  34. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 24, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Another million dollar (almost) settlement against Arpaio:

    http://www.kpho.com/story/29400091/maricopa-county-officials-settle-lawsuit-over-jail-death

  35. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy June 24, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Phoenix cops arrive in 90 seconds after man allegedly punches dog:

    http://www.kpho.com/story/29392813/citizen-patrol-volunteer-calls-police-after-dog-is-punched