Criminal Justice

Federal prosecutors will charge Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt; he vows a fight

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Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Joseph Sohm /

Federal prosecutors plan to charge Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt for allegedly violating an order banning racial profiling.

Prosecutors revealed their decision in court on Tuesday, report the Arizona Republic and the New York Times. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said that because Arpaio is age 84, a sentence cap of six months would be appropriate if he is convicted.

The decision follows a finding by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow that Arpaio failed to implement an injunction barring the sheriff’s office from detaining people only because they were believed to be in the country illegally. Snow referred the case to U.S. Attorneys for prosecution in August.

Lawyers for Arpaio had claimed violation of the order was the result of miscommunications and confusion.

Arpaio, who is running for re-election, vowed to fight any charges. “This was strictly a political attack on this sheriff in this campaign,” he told the Arizona Republic. “I am not going to surrender. I am going to fight this all the way. And I expect to be re-elected.”

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