New subpoena issued in criminal investigation of ex-Sheriff Babeu's administration use of RICO funds

Posted at 7:08 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 23:37:08-04

A federal grand jury has issued another subpoena in the ongoing investigation of RICO funds used during ex-Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's administration, according to records obtained by the ABC15 Investigators. 

The subpoena was dated March 8 and signals that the FBI investigation involving Babeu's administration is progressing and is criminal. 

"This subpoena has been issued pursuant to a criminal investigation being conducted by the federal grand jury," according to the subpoena. 

The subpoena summons current Sheriff Mark Lamb to appear in September and produce certain documents. 

Specifically, it requests the following:

"From January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2016, please provide all records, as listed below, for transactions evidencing misuse of county, state, or federal RICO funds by Pinal County Sheriff's Office employees."

The date range outlined in the subpoena spans Babeu's entire tenure as sheriff of Pinal County. 

An attorney representing Babeu didn't return a request for comment. However, Babeu's former staff had repeatedly denied that his office was under investigation. 

The FBI has been investigating Pinal County's RICO practices since at least early last year. ABC15 also confirmed that agents issued a subpoena for records in September and seized computers and other electronic devices in February. 

RICO seizures and spending by Sheriff Babeu, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and county attorney’s office have been heavily criticized by several watchdog groups during the past year.

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union and international law firm Perkins Coie jointly filed a lawsuit against PCSO and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. The lawsuit claimed the county agencies were misusing RICO funds and funneling money through the Arizona Public Safety Foundation.

The Arizona Public Safety Foundation was once run out of the sheriff’s office. It has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from PCSO in recent years.

In early 2016, the Goldwater Institute, a conservative Arizona watchdog group, echoed concerns over Pinal County’s RICO spending and requested files from the sheriff and county attorney.

In an interview with ABC15, Goldwater attorney Jared Blanchard said they decided to look at Pinal County after questions were raised about funds being used to promote Babeu in a way that could benefit his congressional campaign.

In March 2016, ABC15 spoke with multiple people who said FBI agents were interviewing people related to RICO funds given to the Arizona Public Safety Foundation.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at