A U.S. district judge found former Sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court for continuing patrols meant to round up illegal aliens after a judge ordered him to stop.
"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," said Judge Susan Bolton.
Arpaio was a favorite among conservatives because of his emphasis on capturing and detaining illegal aliens in his jurisdiction. He also appeared as a guest on Fox News and other right-wing news outlets to advocate for stronger laws on illegal immigration.
But he had vocal critics as well. His traffic patrols targeted illegal aliens who used fake identification to find employment. These resulted in hundreds of arrests and made him controversial among advocates of illegal immigrant rights.
Arpaio acknowledged that his patrols continued despite a judge's order in 2011 to stop because of concerns over racially profiling Hispanics. His defense in court was that the prolongation of patrols was not intentional, and blamed his former legal counsel for "not properly explaining the importance of the court order."
Prosecutors accused him of continuing his patrols despite the judge's order so that he could use illegal immigration as a campaign issue for his re-election in 2012.
"Her verdict is contrary to what every single witness testified in the case," said Arpaio's lawyers in a statement, indicating that they would appeal the judgement. "Arpaio believes that a jury would have found in his favor, and that it will."
The former sheriff lost his position in the 2016 election after 6 terms, despite receiving nationwide attention because of his support of then-candidate Donald Trump.
Arpaio faces six months in prison when he's sentenced October 5, but experts believe its likely he wont be given a prison sentence because of his advanced age.