Longtime Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio was officially charged with criminal contempt of court Tuesday for ignoring a judge’s order to stop profiling Latinos in his signature immigration patrols, the Associated Press reports.
Although prosecutors promised two weeks ago to prosecute Arpaio, the charge was not officially filed until U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton signed it.
According to AP, Arpaio, who is up for re-election in November, seeking his seventh term in office, could face up to six months in jail if convicted. The possible misdemeanor conviction would not prevent Arpaio from serving as sheriff.
As the newswire notes, the charge against Arpaio stems from a racial-profiling case the sheriff lost three years ago. That later led to the sheriff being accused of violating a 2011 court order to stop his signature immigration patrol, which targeted Latinos.
Arpaio has reportedly acknowledged violating the order but has said that his defiance was not intentional.
Judge Murray Snow, who issued the 2011 order, disagreed, ruling that Arpaio knowingly continued the problematic patrols because he believed that it would help his 2012 re-election campaign.
According to AP, taxpayers have spent $48 million so far in defending Arpaio and his office in the case. The cost is expected to reach a whopping $72 million by next summer.
Read more at CBS News.