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They say some of Arpaio’s deputies circulated offensive jokes about Mexicans and that Arpaio launched immigration patrols based on racially charged letters and emails that complained of people speaking Spanish but alleged no actual crimes.
Arpaio’s lawyers said the sheriff’s office launches its sweeps on race-neutral grounds and that the sheriff never acted on those letters of complaint.
The judge also laid out punishments against Arpaio’s office for its acknowledged destruction of records in the case, reprimands that come in the form of "adverse inferences" against Arpaio’s office that the judge may consider when deciding the case’s facts.
The judge, for instance, may assume that among the destroyed documents were citizen complaints — some of which were racially-charged and didn’t allege criminal activity — that requested immigration patrols in spots where the sheriff’s office later conducted patrols.
Apart from the lawsuit and civil rights report against the sheriff’s office, a federal grand jury also has been investigating Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009.
Grand jurors are examining the investigative work of the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad.
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