Denver (US), Aug 2 (IANS) Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, considered the toughest sheriff in state history since the legendary 1881 Tombstone Arizona sheriff Wyatt Earp, defied the law — and the law won.
US District Judge Susan Bolton on Monday found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court for violating a judge’s order — to stop racial profiling and detaining suspected undocumented immigrants, Xinhua news agency reports.
A six-month prison term is expected to be announced at his sentencing scheduled for October 5, although US President Donald Trump may weigh in to pardon the 85-year-old crime fighter.
Arpaio was the top lawman in an area more populous than 23 states, with four million people, and America’s fifth-largest city, Phoenix.
While serving as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, from 1993 to 2016, Arpaio earned himself a nationwide reputation for the harsh conditions in his county jail and for his iron-fisted policy on illegal immigration — using racial profiling and controversial “crime suppression sweeps” — that rounded up “suspected” aliens.
But after a judge ordered him in 2011 to stop detaining people based solely on suspicion of their immigration status, he continued with the practice, insisting publicly and repeatedly that the detentions were legal and would continue.
Now, his willful violation of the court order will likely put him behind bars.
Arpaio made national headlines in 1993 when he opened the Tent City jail complex in the Arizona desert near Phoenix to imprison the people he was arresting.
The super-strict sheriff forced inmates to sleep in 70 tatty tents on the desert floor and wear pink underwear together with tight striped jumpsuits.
Arpaio ran for his sixth term as sheriff in September 2016 and was defeated for the first time due to the bevy of allegations swirling around him.