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Phoenix jury sides with Joe Arpaio in malicious-prosecution case

(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX — Jurors in Phoenix determined that former sheriff Joe Arpaio did not maliciously build an animal-cruelty case against a son of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

Austin Flake’s lawsuit had accused Arpaio of malicious prosecution in the case of the deaths of 21 dogs at a Gilbert kennel in 2014. Flake and his now ex-wife Logan Brown had sought monetary compensation, citing emotional distress.

The verdict in federal civil court that went against Flake was announced Friday morning, but closing arguments concluded the previous day.

Court documents showed Flake believed Arpaio had brought charges against him as a way to get back at his father, who has been critical of the longtime lawman.

Flake and Brown had been watching the pet care facility for Brown’s parents, the owners and operators of Green Acre kennel. The air conditioning stopped working over that hot June weekend and the dogs died of heat exhaustion.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation.

Criminal charges against Flake and Brown had been dropped.

A U.S. District judge said at the time of a case-related defamation allegation that investigators didn’t have probable cause and “A factfinder could thus reasonably find that the prosecutors initially charged the Flakes based on pressure from Arpaio.”

During testimony in the just-concluded trial, Arpaio said he didn’t coerce detectives or prosecutors into pressing charges against the young couple.

The couple’s attorney, Stephen Montoya, said his clients disagreed with the verdict but that they were grateful for “the opportunity to force former Sheriff Arpaio and his subordinates at Maricopa County to account for their indisputably reckless conduct.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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