PHOENIX — Formal charges of criminal contempt have been brought against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, federal prosecutors said.
Court documents filed by the Department of Justice on Monday reiterated the government’s previous declaration of intent to pursue criminal contempt charges against Arpaio for defying orders to halt his immigration patrols.
Last week, a U.S. District Court judge determined Arpaio, 84, would face a criminal trial in December.
Arpaio, who took office in 1993 and is running for a seventh term, could face up to a half-year in jail. He could face other charges, as well, which would add more time.
The law enforcer has acknowledged that he did not comply with the injunction to stop the patrols. U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow had recommended criminal charges be filed and handed off the final decision.
The New York Times reported over the weekend Arpaio said, “I am going to fight this. I’m not going to resign like some of my critics want me to do. And I am going to be re-elected, and I will continue serving this county.”
Arpaio’s lawyer Mel McDonald said his client would be pleading not guilty.
Arpaio has accused President Barack Obama of pushing for the charges.
“With Obama on his way out of office, he and DOJ officials know this is their last shot at taking me down,” he said in a recent press release.
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