The Department of Justice plans to charge Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt for allegedly disobeying orders in a racial profiling case over immigration policy, according to Tuesday reports.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton asked the federal government to write an order to show cause for her to sign off on the charges by Wednesday, The Arizona Republic reports.
The paper noted that the order will serve as a charging document for the case to go forward against Arpaio, who has not yet officially been charged.
Arpaio, a leading face of hard-line immigration policy and vocal supporter of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, and his deputies reportedly ignored court orders to halt racial profiling, moving a judge to recommend in August that the charges go forward.
The Tuesday announcement came during the case’s first criminal hearing in downtown Phoenix’s federal court.
Justice Department attorney John Keller said the government will continue investigating additional allegations against Arpaio and three of his aides.
Keller said the accusations against the four involve obstruction of justice by concealing evidence against them.
Keller added that the agency will not proceed with prosecution at this time, as the statute of limitation has likely run out.
Bolton called for a pause on the statute of limitations clock, the Republic reported, so all sides can discuss the matter.
The three other defendants were not involved in the criminal contempt allegation, it continued, and therefore will not face immediate charges.
Arpaio’s attorney asked for a jury trial, the Republic added, and a tentative date of Dec. 6 has been set by the court.
Bolton additionally ruled that a sentencing cap of six months is appropriate for the charge coming against Arpaio, virtually defining the crime as a misdemeanor.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow first found Arpaio and his three deputies in contempt of court earlier this year.
“[They] have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of this court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct,” he wrote in a 162-page ruling issued on May 13.
Snow then asked prosecutors to charge Arpaio with criminal contempt of court in August, bumping the matter up from the civil level.
Snow’s ruling stemmed from Arpaio letting officers conduct immigration patrols for more than a year after a judge barred them from doing so.
Arpaio’s hard-line views on illegal immigration and clashes with the federal government have made him a figure on the national scene.
The sheriff, who has served six terms, faces reelection this year.