President Donald Trump has granted a presidential pardon for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the White House announced on Friday night, ending days of speculation about whether the president would go ahead with the pardon.
Arpaio, 85, was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that targeted suspected illegal immigrants. Arpaio, who insisted that the patrols were legal, allowed his office to carry on with the patrols for another 17 months.
“Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service,” the White House said in a statement on Friday night. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Arpaio, lost re-election last year after serving as the sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years, during which he became one of the country’s most controversial sheriffs. He was also an early and strong supporter of Trump during his run for the presidency.
The former sheriff was due to be sentenced on October 5 and faced up to 6 months in jail, but legal experts said Arpaio was unlikely to be imprisoned because of his age.
The case against Arpaio began with a lawsuit that accused the sheriff’s office of violating the rights of Latinos by stopping them based on racial profiling. They were then detained solely on suspicion of being in the country illegally before being turned over to federal authorities.
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