The six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix has been found in contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge's orders in a racial profiling case, bringing the lawman who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" a step closer to a possible criminal contempt case that could expose him to fines and even jail time. Friday's ruling marked one of the biggest legal defeats in the long career of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known for cracking down on illegal immigration, and was expected to lead to greater court oversight of his office, reports the AP. Arpaio, a month away from turning 84, is running for re-election for the job he's held since 1993.
US District Judge Murray Snow ruled three years ago that Arpaio's officers systematically racially profiled Latinos in regular traffic stops and immigration patrols. He ordered a sweeping overhaul of the agency, including making patrol officers wear body cameras and conducting more training to ensure officers aren't making unconstitutional traffic stops. Arpaio has acknowledged violating Snow's orders, including letting deputies conduct his signature immigration patrols 18 months after the judge barred them. The judge said Friday that Arpaio "engaged in multiple acts of misconduct, dishonesty, and bad faith" and "made multiple intentional misstatements of fact" while testifying during a hearing. He set a May 31 hearing for attorneys to discuss penalties.