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Two ex-members of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration enforcement squad testified against their old boss Wednesday, with one man describing how the agency defied a judicial order to stop rounding up immigrants.

Arpaio, 85, is charged with misdemeanor contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge’s order to end his patrols that rounded up immigrants suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. If convicted, the former six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix could face up to six months in jail.

Arpaio created a squad called the Human Smuggling Unit that was the main immigration enforcer while he was Maricopa County Sheriff. Prosecutors called a former member of that squad, Lt. Brian Jakowinicz, to the witness stand to describe its immigration efforts from 2012 to 2013.

Jakowinicz testified that he spoke to the leaders of the unit during that time, and they said the agency’s legal troubles over immigration had been resolved — despite being under an injunction to stop immigration enforcement.

“They didn’t want … to change anything,” he said. “Everything was running smoothly.” Arpaio has acknowledged prolonging the patrols, but insists his disobedience was unintentional and puts the blame on his former lawyer.

The case marks a harsh rebuke against a lawman who became a national political celebrity with his Arizona immigration patrols but lost his bid for a seventh term in office last year amid voter frustration stemming from the huge bill he ran up over his many legal tangles.

Jakowinicz testified he personally talked to Arpaio about the agency’s practice of handing over immigrants in the country illegally to the U.S. Border Patrol.



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