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Phoenix vice mayor calls for Arpaio to resign after feds press criminal charges

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Vice Mayor Kate Gallego has called for longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to resign after he was charged with criminal contempt of court by the Department of Justice.

In a statement released Wednesday, Gallego said it is outrageous that Arpaio would choose to stay in office.

“It is outrageous that he remains in a position of leadership over a law enforcement agency,” she said. “He should resign immediately.”

Gallego said the charges raise serious questions about Phoenix and other jurisdictions working with Arpaio’s agency.

“We as a city council must seriously rethink whether it is appropriate for us to be contracting with a law enforcement agency led by a criminal defendant,” she said.

Gallego said she instructed City Manager Ed Zuercher to evaluate all contracts between Phoenix and MCSO and is urging the city to take steps to lower any potential costs to taxpayers.

Arpaio was charged with criminal contempt of court on Tuesday.

Arpaio said later Tuesday the charges were nothing more than a final attempt by President Barack Obama to oust the sheriff from office.

A felony contempt conviction would force Arpaio from office; he could remain sheriff with a misdemeanor conviction.

Arpaio would face up to six months in jail if convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt and an unspecified sentencing range if such a conviction is deemed a felony.

The case is not expected to be designated as a misdemeanor or felony until later.

Arpaio, 84, was recommended for criminal contempt charges by U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow. He has acknowledged violating an order from Snow but insisted it wasn’t intentional.

Snow disagreed. He said Arpaio kept up the patrols, for which he is well-known around the country, in an effort to retain office during the 2012 elections.

Arpaio, a Republican, won with nearly 51 percent of the vote to Democratic rival Paul Penzone’s nearly 45 percent. It was the closest margin Arpaio had ever faced. The two will square off again in November.

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