PHOENIX — The Latest on the contempt of court case against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona (all times local):
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is accusing the Obama administration of trying to influence his re-election race by promising to file a criminal contempt-of-court charge against him.
Prosecutors said at a court hearing Tuesday they will charge the 84-year-old lawman with criminal contempt of court for defying a judge’s orders to end his signature immigration patrols.
The hearing came the day before early voting starts in Arizona.
Arpaio issued a statements saying he was confident he would be exonerated and accusing the Obama administration of trying to influence the sheriff’s race.
The U.S. Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
Prosecutors are expected to file a misdemeanor contempt charge against Arpaio on Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors say they will file criminal contempt-of-court charges against Sheriff Joe Arpaio for disobeying orders to stop his immigration patrols.
The announcement in federal court Tuesday sets in motion criminal proceedings against the sheriff just as he seeks a seventh term in office.
A judge previously recommended criminal contempt charges against Arpaio but left it up to federal prosecutors to actually bring the case. Prosecutor John Keller said in court that the government will bring charges, with the next step being a court filing that’s akin to a criminal complaint.
Arpaio could face up to six months in jail if convicted of misdemeanor contempt.
Arpaio was told by federal judge Murray Snow to stop his immigration patrols amid allegations of racial profiling by Latinos.
Arpaio has acknowledged violating the order but insists his disobedience wasn’t intentional.
A judge will hold a hearing to discuss legal issues raised by a recommendation that prosecutors charge a famously defiant Arizona sheriff with criminal contempt of court for defying orders in a racial profiling case.
Tuesday’s hearing falls the day before early voting starts in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s bid for a seventh term as metro Phoenix’s top law enforcer.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton called the hearing to discuss issues raised by another judge’s request that Arpaio face criminal contempt charges after refusing to stop targeting Latinos in patrols.
Arpaio has acknowledged violating the order but insists it wasn’t intentional. But he and his second in command were found in civil contempt of court this summer.