Larkin And Lacey Epic Battle With Sheriff Joe Arpaio A Win For The Good Guys

The disgraced former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, is running for U.S. Senator. That’s because he has more free time now that President Donald Trump has issued Arpaio a full pardon after he was convicted of a felony — criminal contempt of court. Read more: Jim Larkin | Twitter and Michael Lacey | Crunchbase

Without the presidential pardon, Arpaio would likely have spent time in jail. It would have been an ironic and humiliating end to the long career of a lawman who was notorious for putting other people in jail, whether they had committed a crime of not.

Two cases in point are Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. These two high-profile Arizona journalists were arrested in the middle of the night and locked up at the order of then Sheriff Arpaio. The whole scene was bizarre and displayed elements evocative of Nazi Germany.

Larkin and Lacey are essentially journalists. They were owners of The Phoenix New Times, an award-winning alternative newspaper in Arizona with a stellar track record of producing superior news coverage — especially on important stories all-too-often ignored by the mainstream media.

On a dark night in October of 2007, a fleet of unmarked SUVs with Mexican license plates pulled up to the Phoenix homes of both Larkin and Lacey. Gangs of plainclothes law enforcement officers poured out — they proceeded to arrest Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin.

The reason for the arrest, according to Arpaio, was that the newsmen has violated the law by publishing a story about a sealed grand jury investigation — which turns out to have been brought against Larkin and Lacey themselves — unbeknownst to the two men.

In short, the arrest of Larkin and Lacey was a blatant violation of the First Amendment which guarantees free speech and freedom of the press. As soon as word of the arrests hit the streets, a massive public outcry resulted. Larkin and Lacey were released from jail after 24 days in lock-up, charges dropped. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey:

The two veteran media owners sued the county for false arrest. After much legal wrangling, Larkin and Lacey were awarded a stunning $3.7 million in damages by a U.S. Court of Appeals.

Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey could have simply pocketed the windfall of cash received from their lawsuit, but instead created a nonprofit philanthropic foundation dedicated to helping the many victims of Sheriff Arpaio’s reign of terror. Those victims were mostly Hispanic undocumented immigrants who had crossed the U.S. border seeking refuge from war, poverty, gang violence and drug cartel mayhem in countries like Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

Today the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund has disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars to a wide array of groups that are providing aid and comfort to desperately poor and displaced immigrants seeking refuge in the United States.

The epic battle of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin against the man who was once known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” still resonates today in Arizona and across the nation. It’s the story of the “good guys” winning out over the politically powerful and corrupt.