President Donald Trump issued a presidential pardon late Friday to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was facing up to six months in jail after he was found guilty of criminal contempt.
The pardon means that the 85-year-old former lawman will not face punishment for the guilty verdict, but the verdict will remain on his criminal record.
Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court earlier this summer in a case related to racial profiling.
Federal Judge Susan Bolton ruled last month that Arpaio intentionally ignored another judge's order to stop arresting undocumented immigrants without any evidence of breaking state law.
Arpaio was a big supporter of Trump's during the 2016 campaign and one of the original "birthers" who questioned President Barack Obama's citizenship, an idea Trump championed several years before his presidential run.
BREAKING: President Donald Trump grants a presidential pardon to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio pic.twitter.com/LFKAzRNS7O— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 26, 2017
Trump's pardon was announced in a news release at 5 p.m. Friday from the White House press secretary:
"Today, President Donald J. Trump granted a Presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio's life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service. After serving in the Army, Arpaio became a police officer in Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas, NV and later served as a Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), formerly the Bureau of Narcotics. After 25 years of admirable service, Arpaio went on to lead the DEA's branch in Arizona.
Trump hinted at a pardon for Arpaio during his Tuesday campaign rally in Phoenix, saying: "I will make a prediction. He is going to be just fine, OK?"
Current Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who defeated Arpaio in the November election, released the following statement:
Hours after the White House release, Trump announced the pardon on Twitter.
I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2017