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Man cleared of plot to bomb Sheriff Arpaio

The Arizona Republic

Jurors vote for acquittal after the defense argues the case involved entrapment and a publicity stunt.


The Arizona Republic

After five weeks of testimony, a jury yesterday acquitted a Phoenix man of trying to blow up Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

James Saville, 22, who spent four years in jail, dropped his head when the jury announced he was innocent of conspiring to commit first-degree murder and innocent of misconduct involving weapons.

His sister, Linda Saville, 24, sobbed as the verdict was read.

“After what has happened, this has really restored my faith in the justice system,” she said.

Jurors, who began deliberating Thursday, were persuaded by defense arguments that Saville was entrapped by the Sheriff’s Office as part of a publicity stunt by Arpaio.

Ulisses Ferragut, Saville’s lawyer, said after the verdict that jurors told him the entrapment resulted from “overzealousness by the Sheriff’s Office.”

He said the next step is a civil suit against the Sheriff’s Office.

“They have been holding him for four years,” Ferragut said. “They knew what they did to that boy was wrong.”

Sheriff’s Sgt. Wayne Scoville was the star witness for the defense.

In earlier interviews, he said Saville was the victim of an entrapment scheme started by a prison snitch in 1999.

The informer, Saville’s prison mate, told him that he would get cars and money if he agreed to meet a mobster and build a bomb to kill Arpaio. If he refused, the snitch said Saville’s family would be in danger. At the time, Saville was completing an 18-month sentence for inciting a race riot and attempting to blow up Maryvale High School.

The defense said the snitch concocted the scheme to gain favor and get out of prison.

When Saville left prison on July 8, 1999, an undercover detective helped him make the bomb and took him to the sheriff’s car in a restaurant parking lot, where Saville was arrested in front of the media.

Sheriff’s officials denied Saville was entrapped.

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