"America's toughest sheriff" Joe Arpaio could find himself on the opposite side of prison bars than he's used to after he was found guilty of criminal contempt because he refused to stop racially profiling Latinos in his quest to aid ICE in their immigration roundups.
Bolton's ruling follows a five-day June and July trial, in which Department of Justice prosecutors argued that the 85-year-old had intentionally flouted a federal judge's orders halting Arpaio's signature immigration round-ups.
Arpaio spent nine of his 24 years in office enforcing federal immigration law.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 5. Arpaio installed the inhumane jail in his first year as sheriff, and his legacy is largely tied to it.
In 2011, a court ordered him to stop the patrols.
"Her verdict is contrary to what every single witness testified in the case", his legal team said in a statement.
The verdict rejected Arpaio's defense that Snow's order was unclear and that the violations were unintentional.
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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Ariz., on January 9, 2013. Maricopa County agreed to pay $8.7 million to settle lawsuits by people who said they were investigated on trumped-up allegations. Following his conviction, many critics and supporters alike took to social media to share their thoughts on the fate of controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
In December 2011, amid a long-running racial profiling case, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow ordered Arpaio's deputies to stop holding individuals exclusively on the belief they were in the country illegally.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio guilty of misdemeanor contempt of court for prolonging the patrols.
Arpaio says that he intends to appeal and also says that he will press for a jury trial.
Hearing the suit, another federal district judge, G. Murray Snow, ordered the sheriff in 2011 to halt detention based exclusively on suspicion of a person's immigration status, when there was no evidence that a state law had been broken.
Arpaio's criminal charges are believed to have contributed heavily to his crushing defeat in November to little-known retired Phoenix police Sgt. Paul Penzone.
The former sheriff served as the top lawman for Maricopa County for more than two decades. To a large extent, this was due to the extent to which Arpaio and his department, and eventually the entire state of Arizona, found itself at the center of the debate about illegal immigration.