Closing arguments at former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's trial completed

Posted at 12:40 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 19:53:27-04

Lawyers have concluded closing arguments at the contempt of court trial of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio involving a court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton didn't make a decision Thursday over whether Arpaio was guilty of the misdemeanor count for prolonging his patrols for 17 months after a judge ordered him to halt the tactic.

Bolton ordered attorneys to submit legal briefs and will deliver a verdict at an unknown point in the future.

Prosecutors say Arpaio continued his patrols to keep his name in the news and raise campaign money during a tough re-election year.

Arpaio's attorney blamed sheriff's employees and a lawyer who once defended the sheriff in a racial-profiling case for not following the order to stop the patrols.

A clip from a Fox News interview six months after the order showed Arpaio saying federal authorities were taking custody of immigrants detained by his deputies, even though they had not been suspected of state crimes.

"ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has been taking them off our hands when we have no state charges," Arpaio said in the March 2012 interview.

Prosecutor John Keller said Arpaio's motive was to collect campaign contributions and used the sheriff's words to back up his argument.

"They don't give you money if they don't believe in you," Arpaio said in a video clip recorded six months after the order.

The prosecutor also pointed out news releases in which Arpaio's office acknowledged that deputies were turning over immigrants not accused of state crimes to federal authorities, which wasn't allowed under the court order. Keller said Arpaio bragged to news reporters that he was still detaining immigrants.

Arpaio carried out the sort of local immigration enforcement that President Donald Trump has advocated. To build his highly touted deportation force, Trump is reviving a long-standing program that deputizes local officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Arpaio's immigration powers were eventually stripped away by the courts and federal government.

The sheriff has faulted a former attorney defending him in a racial profiling lawsuit for not properly explaining the importance of the court order.

But prosecutors said attorney Tim Casey told the sheriff that his officers could not detain immigrants who had not been suspected of a state crime. Casey testified that he told Arpaio that his officers would either have to arrest or release immigrants in such situations and could not bring them to federal immigration authorities.

Arpaio's defense also focused on what it calls weaknesses in the court order that failed to acknowledge times when deputies would detain immigrants and later hand them over to federal authorities.

Arpaio's legal woes are believed to have contributed heavily to his crushing defeat in November to retired Phoenix Police Sgt. Paul Penzone.