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Maricopa County budget earmarks millions for Sheriff Joe Arpaio lawsuit

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County’s 2017 budget earmarks more than $13 million to cover costs in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling lawsuit, documents show.

“Maricopa County is court-ordered to pay the costs of compliance for the Melendres judgment order so we don’t have a choice there,” County Supervisor Steve Gallardo said of the money earmarked for Arpaio’s case in a press release.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved the spending Monday as part of its $2.35 billion budget. A final vote is set for late next month.

The $13.2 million budgeted for Arpaio’s case will cover “training, outreach meetings, data collection and analysis software and hardware, development and implementation of an early intervention system and bilingual pay,” the release said.

The case has already cost Maricopa County millions of dollars.

The county has already shelled out $41 million over the past eight years in the racial profiling case and must keep covering those legal costs until Arpaio’s office is released from the supervision of the case judge.

Arpaio and three deputies were found to be in civil contempt in the case on Friday by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow. While a criminal contempt matter has yet to be decided — a hearing has been set for May 31 — Snow’s ruling will likely mean the federal government will play a larger part in running the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

“I could see Judge Snow ordering that the Department of Justice has a heavier hand in the day-to-day activities of MCSO,” KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said.

Gallardo said the contempt ruling, in which a court monitor alleges Arpaio’s office has been slow to make court-ordered changes, raises some eyebrows.

“If we’re spending millions and the court appointed monitor says we’re only 30 percent in compliance, there are some tough questions the sheriff’s office needs to answer,” he said in the release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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