Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio found guilty of criminal contempt

Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty on Monday of criminal contempt for defying a judge's court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. 

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Arpaio, 85, was charged with misdemeanor contempt of court, declaring that he willfully defied a judge's order in 2011 and prolonged his patrols for another 17 months, Fox 10 Phoenix reported. 

He is expected to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faces up to six months in jail if convicted, though some attorneys doubt Arpaio will face any jail time. 

Arpaio's lawyers argued that the former sheriff did not intend to break the law. The ex-lawman admitted to prolonging his patrols, but then blamed one of his former attorneys for not fully explaining the court order. 

However, prosecutors insisted that Arpaio ignored the judge's orders because the former sheriff was attempting to boost his 2012 campaign. 

"He wanted to raise money and win re-election, and it worked," prosecutor John Keller said.

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Arpaio's lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, contending their client's legal fate should have been decided by a jury, not a judge. They also said U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton violated Arpaio's rights by not reading the decision in court.

"Her verdict is contrary to what every single witness testified in the case," his lawyers said in a statement. "Arpaio believes that a jury would have found in his favor, and that it will."

Last week, Arpaio said he felt "optimistic" about his case. 

Arpaio's tactics over 24 years in office drew fierce opponents as well as enthusiastic supporters nationwide who championed what they considered a tough-on-crime approach, including forcing inmates to wear pink underwear and housing them in tents outside in the desert heat.

He was voted out of office in November 2016, defeated by little-known retired Phoenix police Sgt. Paul Penzone. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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