Joe Arpaio, the longtime sheriff of Phoenix notorious for being tough on illegal immigration, was charged with criminal contempt of court Tuesday after ignoring a judge's order in a racial profiling case.
The U.S. Department of Justice warned it would prosecute Arpaio two weeks ago, but that did not become officiall until Tuesday, when District Judge Susan Bolton signed it.
Arpaio faces up to six months in jail if convicted, but since it's a misdemeanor, he won't be barred from serving as sheriff.
Arpaio had been accused of ordering deputies to arrest undocumented immigrants when there were no state charges against them, despite another district judge, G. Murray Snow, banning the practice, The Arizona Republic reports.
Bolton accused Arpaio of doing so for "the notoriety he received" rather than actual law enforcement. His lawyer, Mel McDonald, said Arpaio will plead not guilty.
The trial has cost county taxpayers $48 million so far as they defend Arpaio.
Arpaio has walked away from investigations while still getting re-elected. He was accused of retaliating against local officials by accusing them of corruption and later investigated for misspending more than $100 million.
Conservative Twitter users weren't thrilled.
Others were overjoyed. Arpaio is up for re-election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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