Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt Monday for violating a 2011 court order.
Arpaio, 85, received a court order in 2011 to stop police patrols that were apprehending illegal immigrants based solely on immigration status and handing them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was convicted of ignoring the order for 17 months, FOX 10 Phoenix reported Monday.
Arpaio, who referred to himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” faces up to six months in prison at his Oct. 5 sentencing.
The state claimed his officers couldn’t apprehend illegal immigrants unless they broke state law.
In court, Arpaio’s lawyers argued he had misunderstood the court order, only breaking with it because one of his former lawyers had explained it to him poorly. Prosecutors, however, claimed he used the court order’s publicity to boost is 2012 re-election campaign, Fox News reported.
“He wanted to raise money and win re-election, and it worked,” prosecutor John Keller told Fox.
Arpaio was both famous and infamous for his approach to criminal punishment; he forced male prisoners to wear pink underwear and even reinstated chain gangs in his jurisdiction.
The former sheriff endorsed President Donald Trump during the 2016 election season, but was voted out of office in November 2016 by Paul Penzone, a Phoenix police sergeant.
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