State won’t charge former Pinal County officials for ‘eyebrow-raising’ use of RICO funds

 
A 2018 report from the Arizona Office of the Auditor General found some RICO monies collected by former Pinal County Attorney and former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu were misspent. They are shown in a 2006 campaign photo. 

By Robert Anglen | Arizona Republic 

Two top former law-enforcement officials in Pinal County won’t face state criminal charges over their questionable use of profits from property seized during arrests and investigations.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday it would not prosecute former Sheriff Paul Babeu and former County Attorney Lando Voyles for what it described as “eyebrow-raising” expenditures.

“There was definitely sloppy record-keeping and a lack of checks and balances,” Ryan Anderson, the AG’s director of communications, said. “But that didn’t rise to the level of criminal activity.”

The decision comes months after state auditors found Babeu and Voyles mismanaged more than $2 million in so-called racketeering, or RICO, funds. 

Auditors said the pair funneled money to community groups without proper oversight and sometimes without paperwork detailing how the money would be spent. Auditors said Babeu and Voyles also sent $683,406 to a nonprofit called the Arizona Public Safety Foundation managed by members of the sheriff’s staff, a potential violation of conflict-of-interest laws.

The poor record-keeping noted by auditors was also a key factor preventing the AG’s office from filing charges against Babeu and Voyles, Anderson said.

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