In 1999, Joe Arpaio Faked His Own Assassination Attempt, Costing Taxpayers $1M

Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio once staged his own assassination attempt and nearly sent an innocent man to prison.

During an event in Arizona put on by the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies, Vice President Mike Pence took a moment to acknowledge former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was in attendance.

Pence called Arpaio a “great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law” and said he was honored to have the controversial sheriff in the audience.

Now, there are numerous reasons to disagree with Pence that Arpaio a praise-worthy individual, but the most fascinating and disturbing might be Arpaio’s attempt at staging his own assassination and framing an innocent man – a scheme that wound up costing Arizona taxpayers over $1 million.

Taxpayers spent $1,102,528.50 [in 2008] to settle another of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawsuits, New Times has learned through a public records request. The suit was brought by a man whom Arpaio framed in 1999 in a staged murder plot against the sheriff.

In 2004, victim James Saville’s family sued Arpaio for $10 million, after Saville was found not guilty of attempting to kill the sheriff. The county recently settled with Saville for an undisclosed amount. It only had to pay the above amount out of public coffers; its insurance policy covered the rest.

Saville spent four years in jail before the trial started, and had he been convicted of the phony crime, he would have faced 22 years in prison.

But the jury saw through Arpaio’s scheme:

In 2004, a jury found Saville innocent of all charges. Not only that, but it ruled that Arpaio’s minions helped buy the bomb parts themselves and “entrapped” Saville in a TV-ready murder plot.

“Jurors listened in disbelief as testimony showed it was the sheriff’s money that purchased the bomb parts, and an undercover officer who drove Saville around to buy the parts,” [Janna Bommersbach] wrote.

Arpaio was reelected not long after the jury reached its verdict, and now he is running for Senate on the Republican ticket.

Click here to read more about Arpaio’s plot and here to read about others who fell victim to the sheriff’s publicity stunts.