The White House announced late Friday that President Donald Trump has granted a presidential pardon to Joe Arpaio, former Maricopa, Arizona, County sheriff.
He was convicted of contempt of court in a prosecution pursued throughout the years of the Obama administration for overstepping the bounds set by the courts in his pursuit of criminals in the United States.
The White House said, "In 1992, the problems facing his community pulled Arpaio out of retirement to return to law enforcement. He ran and won a campaign to become sheriff of Maricopa County.
"Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration."
The statement continued, "Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our bation, he is worthy candidate for a presidential pardon."
The statement said Arpaio's career began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War.
His accomplishments "exemplify selfless public service," the statement said.
"After serving in the Army, Arpaio became a police officer in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, Nev., 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," it said.
It was only a few nights earlier that the president, speaking at a rally, had advised the audience that he was confident Sheriff Joe would be "all right."
Known as "America's toughest sheriff" for his no-nonsense approach to law enforcement and his strong opposition to illegal immigration, Arpaio was the first to sue Obama over his 2014 administrative orders, which allowed another 4 or 5 million illegal aliens to remain in the United States.
In a statement during the 2016 campaign, when Arpaio endorsed him, Trump said: "I have great respect for Sheriff Arpaio. We must restore law and order on the border and respect the men and women of our police forces. I thank him for his support of my policies and candidacy for president."
Arpaio said: "Donald Trump is a leader. He produces results and is ready to get tough in order to protect American jobs and families. I have fought on the front lines to prevent illegal immigration.
"I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border. I am proud to support him as the best candidate for president of the United States of America."
Arpaio had been at odds with the Obama administration since its beginning, mostly over illegal immigration. The sheriff sued because of the impact illegal aliens have on the safety and security of his county's residents. Federal officials, in turn, have accused him of not treating illegals properly.
A split panel of federal judges said Arpaio didn't have standing to sue, with the minority expressing outrage that the concerns of the sheriff of one of the nation's largest counties, on the border with Mexico, would be dismissed.
His unusual approach to law enforcement has earned him repeated election victories.
For example, he established chain gangs for inmates to contribute thousands of dollars of free labor to communities, painting over graffiti and cleaning streets.
He banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines and unrestricted TV in jails. His costs per meal for inmates run between 15 cents and 40 cents. He provided pink underwear for inmates to wear, after learning that inmates were stealing white jailhouse boxers.
He's also posted mugshots online to serve as a deterrent, and he's behind the only official law enforcement investigation of Barack Obama's birth certificate. His investigators have concluded that the birth certificate Obama presented at the White House as an official government document almost certainly is a forgery.
His endorsement was facilitated by pastor Carl Gallups, a popular author and radio host who recently gave the opening invocation at a massive Trump rally in Pensacola, Florida.
"He loves this nation and its heritage," Gallups, who has not officially endorsed any candidate, told WND. "He's the anti-Obama, he's the opposite of Obama. And he's commander in chief material, he has that kind of presence, and he'd be tough on our enemies."
Arizona's Republic newspaper noted Arpaio expressed thanks.
"I'm very appreciated of the president issuing that pardon," Arpaio told the newspaper. "It shows how he backs up law enforcement."
The newspaper said, "Arpaio told The Arizona Republic he learned of the pardon at about 4:00 p.m. from his lawyer, who visited him Friday at Arpaio's Fountain Hills home. The lawyer delivered Arpaio's wife a birthday gift, ‘the other gift was the pardon,' said Arpaio, who said they planned to celebrate over an Italian dinner of spaghetti with calamari and red wine at a favorite restaurant."
He said he might still be active politically.
"I don't know what I'm going to do politically. I told my wife that I was through with politics. But now I've decided I'm not through with politics because of what's happening. I didn't ask for a pardon. It has nothing to do with a pardon. I've been saying this for the last couple of months. I've got a lot to offer," he told the paper.
He could have faced up to six months in jail at a sentencing that had been scheduled for Oct. 5.