Arpaio pleads for leniency from federal judge he disobeyed

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File photo of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Soruce: KPHO/KTVK) File photo of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Soruce: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio could learn as soon as Friday whether he’ll be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal prosecution for contempt of court.

Arpaio and several of his top aides have admitted to violating a court order in a racial profiling case, but the sheriff has said he did not do it intentionally. Intent is a requirement for the crime of criminal contempt.

RELATED: Defiant Arizona sheriff has been found in contempt of court

On Wednesday, a less defiant Arpaio filed a memorandum that lays out why Judge Murray Snow should not refer the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Among the points Arpaio made were:

  • The sheriff has a 55-year history of exemplary service;
  • MCSO has made significant efforts to comply with the court’s orders;
  • The sheriff’s public commentary about the court’s orders do not equal intentional defiance of those orders;
  • There are some aspects of MCSO’s conduct that the sheriff could not control.

The case at issue is Melendres v. Arpaio, which was brought against the sheriff and MCSO for alleged racial profiling during immigration patrols. At the end of the trial, Snow ruled that MCSO deputies illegally targeted Hispanic drivers.

Early on in the court process, Snow ordered Arpaio to stop his immigration patrols. But MCSO continued them for at least 18 months.

Snow already found Arpaio and his aides liable for civil contempt, which could carry a penalty of fines and additional oversight of MCSO. A criminal conviction could lead to a prison sentence.

RELATED: Judge delays decision on Arpaio punishment for civil contempt

You can read Arpaio’s most recent court filing here.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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