PHOENIX - The US Justice Department will decide whether criminal contempt charges will be brought against Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio for violating court orders in a racial profiling case, court documents released late on Friday showed.
The department's criminal division has been assigned the case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three others after the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona asked to be recused, according to documents filed in US District Court in Phoenix.
The criminal referral centers on U.S. District Judge Murray Snow's ruling that Arpaio intentionally violated a 2011 court order barring the sheriff's office from stopping and detaining drivers solely based on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally. The stops continued for another 18 months.
Snow also cited Arpaio and his office for failing to disclose documents and preserve records in the case, as ordered.