Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a loyal Trump supporter, says he will stand with the president no matter what happens to him.
Arpaio said he would welcome a pardon from President Trump after U.S. District Judge, Susan Bolton, found him guilty of criminal contempt of court for violating an earlier judge’s order, blocking Arpaio’s sheriff’s office from detaining illegal immigrants, reports USA Today.
Ex-Sheriff Arpaio was lauded in conservative circles as “America’s toughest Sheriff.” He is known for his tough stance against illegal immigration, and for leading the investigation into former President Obama’s birth certificate — which Arpaio claims to be a forgery. Arpaio lost his reelection bid last year, and was replaced by Sheriff Paul Penzone on January 1st.
Joe Arpaio’s 24-year tenure as Maricopa County sheriff was dogged with controversy. Specifically, critics from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have accused Arpaio’s office of racial profiling and discriminating against Latinos.
Judge Bolton found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt in the most recent development in a decade-long legal struggle. Judge Bolton scheduled sentencing in October. The former Sheriff faces up to six months behind bars, the equivalent of a misdemeanor crime. Sheriff Arpaio plans to appeal the decision from the bench, and is calling for a Jury trial.
A 2007 racial profiling allegation morphed into the decade long legal battle, where opponents accused Arpaio of improperly targeting illegal immigrants who were not suspected of any other crimes.
In 2011, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow issued a court order blocking Sheriff Arpaio’s office from detaining suspected illegal immigrants. In a recent ruling, Judge Bolton found Arpaio in violation of this order for continuing the practice of targeting illegal immigrant communities.
However, Sheriff Arpaio denies any wrongdoing. He says his office never willfully disobeyed the confusing order. The 2011 order blocked conflicted federal immigration laws, and Arpaio’s lawyer claims it was not clear whether to follow the court order, or the laws of the land.
The decade-long legal battle will continue as Arpaio requests a retrial claiming his rights were violated when he was denied a trial by jury. However, many are hoping President Trump will step in and issue a pardon for his political ally.
“Whatever the president wants me to do, I would support him,” Arpaio said in a recent interview with The Arizona Republic. “If he needs help with anything, of course I’m going to help him,” but “I’m not going to ask him, [for a pardon]” Arpaio offered, adding, “I have not called him on this issue. I’m sure I could. … I’m with him, pardon no pardon, and not asking him. Although, as I said, many other people are asking him.”
Sheriff Arpaio was one of the first prominent public figures to offer his full support for President Trump’s election campaign. The two men are united by their tough stance against illegal immigration.
The White House has remained silent on the case, and has not offered any indication that President Trump will intervene of behalf of Sheriff Arpaio.