The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced it will pursue a criminal contempt-of-court case against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
In August, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow referred the Maricopa County Sheriff for contempt stemming from her findings that Arpaio willfully violated several court orders – including disobeying an order to stop enforcing immigration and failing to disclose evidence.
The announcement comes a month before Election Day, when Arpaio is up for a seventh term. He has also been a major part of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, according to NBCNews.com.
John Keller, a prosecutor with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, said in court that Arpaio would be charged with misdemeanor contempt, with the next step being a court filing.
According toThe Washington Post the federal judge said Arpaio “willfully defied his orders to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants without legal basis.”
Paperwork was set to be filed today, with a trial date set for December 6.
Arpaio’s attorney, Mel McDonald, said the sheriff “vehemently denies that he was ever knowingly and willfully contemptuous of any court order,” via The Post.
In August McDonald stated the sheriff’s legal team is prepared to “fight this to the bitter end.”
Following the news on Tuesday, McDonald stated Arpaio will plead not guilty and hopes to prevail in front of a jury.
NBCNews.com reported the case will also focus on Arpaio carrying out what some have called a secret investigation of Judge Snow. Snow demanded Arpaio and his aide turn over 50 hard drives that were part of the probe, but they ignored the order.
Keller told The Huffington Post that they are seeking no more than six months incarceration for 84-year-old lawman, citing age and other factors.