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Joe Arpaio criminal contempt trial set to get underway next week in Phoenix

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PHOENIX — Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was scheduled to appear in a Phoenix court next week when his criminal contempt-of-court trial begins.

Arpaio, 85, was charged with disobeying a federal judge’s 2011 order to stop his immigration enforcement patrols. A court found them to biased against Latinos.

He pleaded not guilty and has referred to the charges as “a bunch of garbage.”

The trial was to begin Monday.

Arpaio’s defense of his reputation included adding U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the witness list.

The trial has faced delays since U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said in October 2016 the case would go forward. The most recent delay moved the start date from April 25.

The longtime lawman has acknowledged ignoring the ruling from federal Judge Murray Snow.

Testifying in April 2015, Arpaio said he misunderstood the injunction and hadn’t intentionally violated the order.

Arpaio’s two-decadelong tenure closed out in November, when he was defeated by Paul Penzone in the general election.

County taxpayers have forked over about $66 million in case-related costs, although they are not responsible for Arpaio’s legal fees.

One of his attorneys said Arpaio was charged with a crime for cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Arpaio could face up to six months in jail, but most legal experts don’t believe that will be the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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