Federal Prosecutors Weigh Whether To Criminally Charge Arpaio

By Jude Joffe-Block
Published: Monday, October 10, 2016 - 7:04pm
Paul Atkinson/KJZZ
Joe Arpaio

The Justice Department prosecutors who are deciding whether to bring criminal contempt of court charges against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three others will meet with defense lawyers and the judge in the case for the first time on Tuesday.

In August, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow referred Arpaio, Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Captain Steve Bailey and attorney Michele Iafrate for criminal contempt charges.

Snow concluded they intentionally violated his court orders stemming from a long-standing racial profiling case.

Lawyers from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C. are now deciding whether to prosecute.

The parties are meeting in U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton's courtroom Tuesday morning.

Justice Department lawyers requested the status conference in early September, and said they wanted to address issues raised in the contempt order, “including scheduling and the legal and procedural requirements and limitations applicable under the contempt statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§ 401 and 402, and Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.”

Criminal contempt can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony and can be punished with prison time.

The court meeting comes one day before early voting begins in Arpaio’s re-election race.