Who is Joe Arpaio? A look at the Arizona ex-sheriff

President Trump on Monday said he may issue a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and strong Trump supporter, who recently was found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that allegedly targeted immigrants.

Trump, speaking with Fox News at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., said that he’s “seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” because “he has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”

Arpaio, 85, recently was charged with misdemeanor contempt of court for allegedly willfully defying a judge’s order in 2011 and prolonging his patrols for another 17 months. He is expected to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faces up to six months in jail if convicted.

Here’s a look at Joe Arpaio’s controversial history.

Who is Joe Arpaio?

Arpaio is best known for his role as sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, a position he was elected to hold. He served from 1993 to 2016.

The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Arpaio served in the U.S. Army from 1950 to 1954 as part of the Medical Detachment Division during the Korean War.

After his military service, Arpaio worked as a police officer in Washington, D.C., for three years before serving as a cop in Las Vegas for six months.

He also worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration for 25 years, starting in 1957. 

In 1993 he was elected sheriff of Maricopa County.

Controversial policing tactics

While Arpaio is known for his controversial takes on many issues, including his "birther" campaign against former President Barack Obama and for housing inmates in desert tent camps, he's best known for his approach to combat illegal immigration.

Arpaio claimed in 2009 that he had arrested 30,000 illegal immigrants since beginning his efforts in 2005.

In 2011, the U.S. Justice Department found that Arpaio’s office committed a range of civil rights violations against Latinos, including racial profiling and discrimination, and carrying out heavy-handed immigration patrols based on racially charged citizen complaints.

In July 2017, Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for allegedly defying a judge's 2011 order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

Arpaio admitted to prolonging his patrols, but said that one of his former attorneys didn't properly explain the court order and that he didn't intend to break the law.

Two weeks after charges were announced against the ex-sheriff in 2016, Arpaio lost his bid for re-election as sheriff in November.

Relationship with President Trump

Arpaio, one of Trump's earliest and most vocal supporters, said last week that he would accept a pardon for his criminal conviction from the president, and would do "whatever the president wants me to do." But he said he had not contacted Trump about pardoning him, and was not planning on asking him to do so.

The two seem to have a personal relationship that stems from their similar stances on illegal immigration. Arpaio spoke on behalf of Trump at the Republican National Convention, stating the then-presidential candidate would be tough on immigration.

Arpaio said Trump called him when he found out Arpaio's wife was diagnosed with cancer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah is a Breaking News Producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.