Justice Department Is Charging Sheriff Joe Arpaio With Criminal Contempt

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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The U.S. Department of Justice will charge Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt for failing to obey a federal court order requiring his department to end practices it deemed discriminatory.

Judge Murray Snow ordered Arpaio, an immigration hawk and surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to suspend his department’s infamous immigration patrols, amid charges the agency was racially profiling Latinos. The sheriff admits that the patrols continued, but contends they were not the result of overt disobedience. (RELATED: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Endorses Donald Trump)

Arpaio’s lawyer, Mel McDonald, told ABC News the sheriff will not be arrested. Instead will appear in court to answer the charge, which will be formally filed Wednesday. McDonald says he intends to seek a jury trial. “We believe the sheriff, being an elected official, should be judged by his peers,” he said.

Arpaio could be convicted of either misdemeanor or felony contempt. A misdemeanor conviction could result in a six-month jail sentence. A felony conviction could result in a longer jail sentence and his removal from office. It is most likely the charge will be a misdemeanor due to Arpaio’s advanced age, according to The Arizona Republic. Arpaio is 84.

He will stand for reelection as country sheriff in the November elections.

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