Ar­paio found guilty of pa­trol or­der snub

De­ci­sion rep­re­sents vic­tory for crit­ics of the for­mer sher­iff.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Jacques Bil­leaud

Con­tro­ver­sial for­mer sher­iff of metro Phoenix con­tin­ued traf­fic stops that tar­geted mi­grants af­ter judge or­dered him to stop.

For­mer Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio was con­victed of a crim­i­nal charge Mon­day for re­fus­ing to stop traf­fic pa­trols that tar­geted im­mi­grants, mark­ing a fi­nal re­buke for a politi­cian who once drew strong pop­u­lar­ity from such crack­downs but was ul­ti­mately booted from of­fice as vot­ers be­came frus­trated over his head­line-grab­bing tactics and deep­en­ing le­gal trou­bles.

The fed­eral judge’s ver­dict rep­re­sents a vic­tory for crit­ics who voiced anger over Ar­paio’s un­usual ef­forts to get tough on crime, in­clud­ing jail­ing in­mates in tents dur­ing triple-digit heat, forc­ing them to wear pink un­der­wear and mak­ing hun­dreds of ar­rests in crack­downs that di­vided im­mi­grant fam­i­lies. Ar­paio is vow­ing to ap­peal.

Ar­paio, who spent 24 years as the sher­iff of metro Phoenix, skirted two ear­lier crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions of his of­fice. But he wasn’t able to avoid le­gal prob­lems when he pro­longed his sig­na­ture im­mi­gra­tion pa­trols for nearly a year and a half af­ter a dif­fer­ent judge or­dered him to stop. That judge later ruled they ra­cially pro­filed Lati­nos.

The law­man who made de­fi­ance a hall­mark of his ten­ure was found guilty of mis­de­meanor con­tempt- of-court for ig­nor­ing the 2011 court or­der to stop the pa­trols. The 85-yearold faces up to six months in jail, though at­tor­neys who have fol­lowed the case doubt some­one his age would be in­car­cer­ated. He will be sen- tenced Oct. 5.

Crit­ics hoped Ar­paio’s eight-day trial in fed­eral court in Phoenix would bring a long-awaited come­up­pance for a law­man who had man- aged to es­cape ac­count­abil­ity through much of his six terms.

Pros­e­cu­tors say Ar­paio vi­o­lated the or­der so he could pro­mote his immi- gra­tion en­force­ment ef­forts in an ef­fort to boost his 2012 re-elec­tion cam­paign and even bragged about his con- tin­ued crack­downs.

He had ac­knowl­edged pro­long­ing his pa­trols but in­sisted it was not in­ten- tional. He also blamed one of his for­mer at­tor­neys in the pro­fil­ing case for not prop- erly ex­plain­ing the im­por­tance of the court or­der.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton re­jected all Ar­paio’s key ar­gu­ments, say­ing it was clear he knew of the or­der but still chose to con­tinue the pa­trols.

“Not only did de­fen­dant ab­di­cate re­spon­si­bil­ity, he an­nounced to the world and to his sub­or­di­nates that he was go­ing to con­tinue busi­ness as usual no mat­ter who said oth­er­wise,” Bolton wrote, cit­ing TV in­ter­views and press re­leases in which Ar­paio said his agency was still de­tain­ing im­mi­grants who were in the coun­try il­le­gally.

She said an at­tor­ney had clearly in­formed him of the or­der, and a top aide also read a por­tion of it aloud to Ar­paio dur­ing a staff meet­ing.

Ar­paio’s lawyers said they will ap­peal the ver­dict, con­tend­ing their client’s le­gal fate should have been de­cided by a jury, not a judge. They also said 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.

For­mer Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio’s lawyers said they will ap­peal.

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