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Criminal charges against Arpaio filed in Phoenix court

U.S. prosectors filed a proposed order Monday in Phoenix showing cause to charge Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt of a federal court. 

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton asked for the proposed order after John Keller, a member of the Justice Department's Public Integrity section, told her that Arpaio should be criminally charged during a hearing last Monday. 

Keller said that he was seeking no more than six months for the pugnacious law man, who has built up his reputation as a hardliner against illegal immigration. 

Keller said he was seeking the order "In light of the seriousness of Judge Snow’s orders and the extensive evidence demonstrating Arpaio’s intentional and continuing non-compliance." 

Keller is seeking a bench trial, which is slated to begin December 6. 

Arpaio is accused of violating a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in December 2011 as part of a lawsuit that accused the sheriff and MCSO of racial profiling. 

Snow barred the sheriff's office from stopping and detaining drivers based solely on the suspicion that they were in the United States without authorization. However, Arpaio and MCSO officials ignored the judge and continued stopping people for another 18 months. 

"The preliminary injunction also ordered that the mere fact that someone was in the country without authorization did not provide, without more facts, reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that such a person had violated state law," Keller wrote. 

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In May, Snow ruled that Arpaio and several administrators should be found in civil contempt of court, and then in October said that the beleaguered law man and his staff should be referred to the U.S. Attorney for Arizona for criminal contempt charges. 

The U.S. attorney recused his office and it went to the Justice Department. 

Keller said that Arpaio had acted "in disobedience or resistance" to a lawful order from a U.S. court. 

"Arpaio violated that order by causing the MCSO to detain persons the MCSO believed to be in the country without authorization but against whom MCSO had no state charges, and thereby acted in disobedience or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command of a court of the United States," Keller wrote. 

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