President Trump granted a presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., on Friday.
Arpaio, 85, was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that allegedly targeted immigrants.
He had been charged with misdemeanor contempt of court for allegedly willfully defying a judge’s order in 2011 and prolonging his patrols for another 17 months.
He was expected to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faced up to six months in jail if convicted.
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon,” the White House said in a statement.
Known for his controversial takes on many issues, including his “birther” campaign against former President Barack Obama and for housing inmates in desert tent camps, Arpaio is best known for his approach to battling illegal immigration. In 2009 he claimed to have arrested 30,000 illegal immigrants since starting his efforts in 2005.
At a rally in Phoenix, on Tuesday, the president asked supporters in the crowd if Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job?”
The crowd cheered.
“He should have had a jury, but I’ll make a prediction: He’ll be just fine,” Trump said. “But I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.