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Arizona sheriff officially charged in racial profiling case

26 October 2016 15:49

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A controversial US sheriff has been criminally charged for ignoring a judge’s order in a racial profiling case.

Joe Arpaio, the longtime sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, was formally charged Tuesday when US District Judge Susan Bolton signed a misdemeanor count against him. Two weeks ago, federal prosecutors had announced that they would pursue charges against Arpaio.

Arpaio, 84, could face up to six months in jail if convicted, however, a misdemeanor conviction would not forbid Arpaio from serving as sheriff.

His lawyer, Mel McDonald, said the sheriff will contest the charge. “We plan on vigorously contesting each and every one of the allegations in the order to show cause.”

“We believe that when the final chapter is written, he will be vindicated,” McDonald added.

This came just two weeks before Election Day on November 8 when Arpaio seeks his seventh term.

Democratic challenger Paul Penzone described Arpaio’s act of political defiance as “another example of the sheriff putting his own personal objectives ahead of the best interest of the community at our expense.”

US District Judge Murray Snow ordered in 2011 that Arpaio stop his signature immigration patrols, but the sheriff violated the order.


A US Border Patrol agent watches over the US-Mexico border fence in Arizona, December 9, 2014. (Photo by AFP)

Despite Arpaio’s insistence that he disobeyed the order unknowingly, Snow said that he knowingly continued the patrols because he believed his immigration enforcement efforts would help his 2012 reelection campaign.

“Judge Snow concluded that Sheriff Arpaio did so based on the notoriety he received for, and the campaign donations he received because of, his immigration enforcement activity,” Bolton wrote.

“After exhausting ‘all of its other methods to obtain compliance,’ Judge Snow referred Sheriff Arpaio’s intentional and continuing non-compliance … to another judge to determine whether he should be held in criminal contempt,” Bolton concluded.

In the past, Arpaio has walked away from criminal investigations without facing charges and still managed to get reelected.

He will be tried on December 6 in the US District Court in Phoenix

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