President Donald Trump issued a presidential pardon late Friday to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was facing up to six months in jail after he was found guilty of criminal contempt.
The pardon means that the 85-year-old former lawman will not face punishment for the guilty verdict, but the verdict will remain on his criminal record.
Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court earlier this summer in a case related to racial profiling.
Federal Judge Susan Bolton ruled last month that Arpaio intentionally ignored another judge's order to stop arresting undocumented immigrants without any evidence of breaking state law.
Arpaio was a big supporter of Trump's during the 2016 campaign and one of the original "birthers" who questioned President Barack Obama's citizenship, an idea Trump championed several years before his presidential run.
BREAKING: President Donald Trump grants a presidential pardon to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio pic.twitter.com/LFKAzRNS7O— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 26, 2017
Trump's pardon was announced in a news release at 5 p.m. Friday from the White House press secretary:
"Today, President Donald J. Trump granted a Presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio's life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service. After serving in the Army, Arpaio became a police officer in Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas, NV and later served as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), formerly the Bureau of Narcotics. After 25 years of admirable service, Arpaio went on to lead the DEA's branch in Arizona.In 1992, the problems facing his community pulled Arpaio out of retirement to return to law enforcement. He ran and won a campaign to become Sheriff of Maricopa County. Throughout his time as a Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon."
Trump hinted at a pardon for Arpaio during his Tuesday campaign rally in Phoenix, saying: "I will make a prediction. He is going to be just fine, OK?"
Current Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who defeated Arpaio in the November election, released the following statement:"The Court made its decision, the President made his, but the people had the final say in November. We are dedicated to earning trust and confidence from the community while ensuring the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office delivers exceptional law enforcement services."
Hours after the White House release, Trump announced the pardon on Twitter.
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017