A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be tried on a criminal contempt charge, accusing him of disobeying a court order in a racial profiling case.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton’s order comes after US District Judge G. Murray Snow asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to file the criminal contempt charges against Arpaio, who bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” and several subordinates.
Snow in May found Arpaio and three members of his office to be in civil contempt because they allegedly violated court orders intended to keep the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from racially profiling Latinos.
Snow wrote in August that continued failure to follow the court’s directions, along with false statements and attempts to obstruct further inquiry, now justified filing criminal contempt charges.
Bolton ordered Arpaio’s trial for December 6 in Phoenix, court papers said. Arpaio could face fines and even jail time, if convicted.
His attorney didn’t immediately return a telephone call or email seeking comment Tuesday night.
The criminal contempt charge stems from a 2007 lawsuit brought by Hispanics, who claim Arpaio had discriminated against them.