Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was given a Presidential pardon Friday, which will keep the 85-year-old out of prison after being found guilty of criminal contempt of court.
Joe Arpaio had been ordered by a judge to stop racially profiling Latino citizens and conducting traffic stops to check their immigration status. Arpaio claimed his patrols were legal and his failure to abide by the court order was a legal misunderstanding.
President Donald Trump announced the pardon in a tweet this evening.
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017
Joe Arpaio responded to the news in a tweet.
Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!
— Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) August 26, 2017
Arpaio, 85, was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that allegedly targeted immigrants.
He had been charged with misdemeanor contempt of court for allegedly willfully defying a judge’s order in 2011 and prolonging his patrols for another 17 months.
Arpaio acknowledged extending the patrols, but insisted it wasn’t intentional, blaming one of his former attorneys for not properly explaining the importance of the court order and brushing off the conviction as a “petty crime.”
He was expected to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faced up to six months in jail if convicted.
“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,” the White House said in a statement.
“I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” the president tweeted. “He kept Arizona safe!”