In August of last year, a conspiracy theory peddler named Jerry Corsi gave a presentation to the Surprise, AZ Tea Party. That speech set in motion a series of events that would lead to the self-proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff in America" calling President Barack Obama's birth certificate a fake.
At Corsi's urging, the Surprise Tea Party created a petition, demanding that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigate the president's birth certificate. It's an issue Corsi was familiar with. He's been pushing the idea that Obama is not a US citizen for years.
Corsi is a contributor to and editor of the website WorldNetDaily, which is known for publishing conservative-leaning conspiracy theories. They have included:
The idea that Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh had connections to middle eastern terrorists;
That TWA Flight 800 was destroyed by terrorists and covered up by the Clinton administration;
And lately, that Obama's birth certificate is a fake.
Corsi came under considerable criticism when he argued that the official story of what brought down the World Trade Centers was a cover up.
In the meantime, Arpaio assigned the birth certificate investigation to his Cold Case Posse and despite Corsi's past, promptly added him to the team.
The other main member of the Cold Case Posse is its director, a former police officer from New Jersey named Mike Zullo. He and Corsi have since teamed up to sell the results of their investigation as a book, available for purchase online.
Arpaio defended his investigators during an afternoon news conference, arguing that their past and potential profit motive did not interfere with their work.
"Look at the evidence and forget who's in bed with who," Arpaio said.
Zullo denied that money was a motivating factor for his involvement in the case.
"I didn't make anything on that book," said Zullo, although he later admitted that he had received checks totaling $1,350 from the publisher.
Zullo said he donated the money to his church.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 00:37:37 GMT
Two Mid-Michigan grandparents may finally get a chance to visit their grand kids in spite of a parent's objection. Local grandparents, Robert and Judith Porter, have been suing for the right to visitMore >
Two Mid-Michigan grandparents may finally get a chance to visit their grand kids in spite of a parent's objection.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:31 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:31:28 GMT
Three teens are reported to have been killed after leading police on a high speed chase in a stolen vehicle. The accident happened on I-75 in Detroit over the weekend. Several news outlets report a 17-year-oldMore >
Authorities have released the names of three teenagers who were killed when their stolen Jeep went off an embankment and crashed upside down in Detroit.More >
Thursday, April 24 2014 9:43 AM EDT2014-04-24 13:43:18 GMT
Police investigating the disappearance of a mother from her job at a western Michigan gas station nearly a year ago are issuing a fresh appeal for tips in the case. Norton Shores police Chief Dan ShawMore >
Police investigating the disappearance of a mother from her job at a western Michigan gas station nearly a year ago are issuing a fresh appeal for tips in the case. More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:51:53 GMT
The tragic death of a young Saginaw boy has led to a lawsuit against a local medical examiner. Elijah Dillard, 6, passed away in March. Police say it was the result of child abuse and his father is facingMore >
The tragic death of a young Saginaw boy has led to a lawsuit against a local medical examiner. More >
ObitMichigan.com is dedicated to delivering immediate, up-to-date information on obituaries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to families and friends in Mid-Michigan. Death notices are displayed during theMore >
ObitMichigan.com is dedicated to delivering immediate, up-to-date information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to families and friends who have lost loved ones.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:57 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:57:36 GMT
Authorities are investigating a deadly plane crash. Officials tell TV 5 a small plane went down Saturday afternoon in a field in Shiawassee County. Two people are confirmed dead. Officials are still onMore >
Funeral arrangements have been set for one of the two Mid-Michigan men who died in a plane crash over the weekend.More >
Thursday, April 24 2014 11:04 AM EDT2014-04-24 15:04:09 GMT
The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.More >
The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels.More >
Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:24 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:24:15 GMT
Authorities say a 31-year-old Detroit woman whose body was found near her dehydrated 8-month-old daughter was stabbed to death.The Wayne County medical examiner's office identifies the woman as CharmanekMore >
Authorities say a 31-year-old Detroit woman whose body was found near her dehydrated 8-month-old daughter was stabbed to death.More >