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Arpaio-Flake malicious-prosecution case reaches closing arguments

PHOENIX — Closing arguments were scheduled Thursday in a malicious-prosecution civil trial brought against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio by the son of an Arizona senator.

Austin Flake has accused Arpaio, who led the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years, of coming after him with felony animal cruelty charges to get back at his father. U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has been a longtime critic of Arpaio.

Charges were dropped against the younger Flake and his then-wife Logan Brown in the 2014 deaths of almost two dozen dogs they had been watching at a Gilbert pet-care facility.

The dogs died of heat exhaustion after air conditioning failed at the kennel owned and operated by Logan Brown’s parents.

The trial got underway Dec. 5.

Arpaio told jurors that he didn’t coerce detectives or prosecutors into pressing charges against the couple.

His attorney said a competent investigation led to the charges.

U.S. District Judge Neil Wake dismissed a defamation allegation from the lawsuit, declaring investigators didn’t have probable cause to charge the couple.

“A factfinder could thus reasonably find that the prosecutors initially charged the Flakes based on pressure from Arpaio,” Wake wrote.

Lawyers for Austin Flake and Brown said the pair still suffered from the emotional distress of the initial legal battle. They have attributed their divorce and Flake’s subsequent depression to the charges brought against them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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