Arpaio was convicted of failing to follow a judge’s order to stop detaining people illegally.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined onstage by former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) at a campaign rally in Marshalltown, Iowa on January 26, 2016, after Arpaio endorsed Trump.
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined onstage by former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) at a campaign rally in Marshalltown, Iowa on January 26, 2016, after Arpaio endorsed Trump.

US President Donald Trump on Friday granted a pardon to former Arizona lawman and political ally Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” less than a month after he was convicted of criminal contempt in a case involving his department’s racial profiling policy.

The action came several days after Trump, at a rally in downtown Phoenix, strongly hinted that he intended to issue a pardon.

"Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration," the White House said in a statement.

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85-years-old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our Nation, he is a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon."

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona, US  on January 9, 2013. (REUTERS )
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces newly launched program aimed at providing security around schools in Anthem, Arizona, US on January 9, 2013. (REUTERS )

Arpaio, who lost a bid for re-election in Arizona’s Maricopa County in November after 24 years in office, was known for his crackdown on undocumented immigrants and investigating unfounded Trump-supported claims questioning former President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

Before Trump granted the pardon, the American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the court injunction against Arpaio, said it would be “a presidential endorsement of racism.”

Arpaio, who campaigned for Trump in 2016, was convicted on July 31 by US District Judge Susan Bolton.

Bolton ruled that he had wilfully violated a 2011 injunction barring his officers from stopping and detaining Latino motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

Arpaio admitted to inadvertently disobeying the court order.

He said that  his behaviour did not meet a criminal standard. 

According to him, the prosecution was a politically motivated attempt by the Obama administration to undermine his re-election bid.

Arpaio had been scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faced a fine and maximum sentence of six months in jail.

His controversial tenure as sheriff brought Arpaio national headlines for massive roundups of suspected illegal immigrants and for the way he ran the Maricopa County jail.

He reinstated chain gangs, made inmates wear uniforms that were pink or old-fashioned black and white stripes and forbade them coffee, salt and pepper.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies