The crackdowns that made him famous are the ones that have now sealed his demise. Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was on Monday found guilty of criminal contempt of court, reports the Arizona Republic, marking a final rebuke for a politician who once drew strong popularity from his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. The verdict from US District Judge Susan Bolton came more than a month after closing arguments in the case were given, reports the Los Angeles Times, and 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 and forcing them to wear pink underwear, reports the AP.
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 in 2011 ordered him to stop. That judge later ruled they racially profiled Latinos. The 85-year-old faces up to six month in jail, though attorneys who have followed the case doubt that someone his age would be incarcerated. Prosecutors say Arpaio violated the order so he could promote his immigration enforcement efforts in an effort to boost his 2012 re-election campaign and even bragged about his continued crackdowns. He had acknowledged prolonging his patrols but insisted it was not intentional. Sentencing is slated for Oct. 5. (Read more Joe Arpaio stories.)