WASHINGTON - President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating a court order involving the racial profiling of suspected undocumented immigrants.

In a statement, the White House cited the former sheriff's Army service and 25 years of law enforcement experience, "protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration."

After a judge found the sheriff’s office’s practice of stopping people suspected to be undocumented immigrants unconstitutional, Arpaio continued to intentionally violate the order. He was convicted of criminal contempt of court and faced six months of jail. Arpaio was set to be sentenced in October.

President Trump had hinted at a rally in Phoenix that he was planning to pardon Arpaio, a longtime supporter of his administration, but said he chose not to do so during the event to avoid controversy.