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Auditor General's Report Reveals Pinal County Officials Misused RICO Funds

A report from the Arizona Auditor General’s Office reveals former Pinal County officials misused anti-racketeering money, or RICO funds.

Investigators looked at a time period from January of 2013 to December of 2016. They found that county officials did not follow established policies for the use of RICO funds.

The Auditor General’s report says the former Pinal County Attorney could not provide applications or written proposals for groups that received the money.

Former Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and other Sheriff’s Office employees are accused of directing money to groups they were affiliated with and not disclosing potential conflicts of interest.

Current Sheriff Mark Lamb says when he took office in 2017 he made changes to the way RICO funds are used. "We worked on getting a committee set up so that we could actually have a group of non-biased people review all RICO requests,” taking him out of the process, Lamb said.

The Auditor General’s office referred the report to the state Attorney General’s office for review.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.