Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca found guilty in corruption trial


Patron with Honors
Apologies if this has already been posted.

Once the head of the largest law enforcement agency of its kind in the nation, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty by a federal jury Wednesday of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and giving false statements in connection with an investigation into corruption and excessive use of force inside the Men’s Central Jail.

Baca, 74, appeared solemn as the court clerk read the jury’s verdict on each count. His wife, Carol, who attended court every day, also offered no reaction.

Baca’s conviction could put him behind bars for up to 20 years.

The eight men and four women of the jury made their decision following almost two days of deliberation after a nearly two-week trial inside a downtown Los Angeles federal courtroom.

The charges against Baca stemmed from an FBI investigation of inmate abuse within Men’s Central Jail in 2011. Prosecutors set out to prove that Baca led efforts to thwart the investigation by hiding an inmate-turned-informant named Anthony Brown within the jail system, so the FBI could no longer interview him. They said he also allowed two sheriff’s sergeants to threaten the lead FBI agent with arrest in front of her home.

The verdict marks a near conclusion to a six-year-long effort to expose inmate abuse and cover-ups by deputies in the jails. Baca is the 10th person to be convicted in connection with the jail corruption scandal and the highest in the chain of command.

Outside the courthouse, the former sheriff appeared emotional but said he would appeal his case. He thanked his attorney, Nathan Hochman, his wife, Carol, and those who supported him.

“I appreciate the jury system however I disagree with this particular verdict,” he said. “I am a faith-based person. I look forward to winning on appeal. I love Los Angeles County. I love the United States of America and I love diversity. It’s just a privilege to be alive. That’s how I feel and I feel good.”

Over the span of the trial, more than a dozen witnesses testified, with most of them called by the prosecution.

Prosecutors also introduced audio clips of an interview between them and Baca in 2013, along with a television appearance he gave. They also presented emails from Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, evidence of calls to and from cellphones, and testimony by several former commanding officers involved with hiding Brown and changing his identity. Each one said they understood their orders came from Baca.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow jurors, the jury foreman told reporters that prosecutors presented their case well, but it was testimony by former Sheriff’s Assistant Chief Cecil Rhambo Jr. who warned the sheriff: “Don’t f--- with the FBI,” that convinced the panel of Baca’s guilt.

“It was his conviction,” the 51-year-old foreman, who didn’t wish to give his name, said, adding that it seemed to the jury that Baca was doing what he could in “protecting his empire.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said in a news conference later that the verdict sends a warning to law enforcement.

“This verdict sends a clear message that no one is above the law,” Brown said. “Lee Baca knew what was right and what was wrong. He made a decision. That decision was to commit a crime, and he lead others in a conspiracy to obstruct a federal law enforcement investigation into what he described as his jails. When the time came, he lied. He lied to cover up his crimes.”

The verdict came in a second trial for Baca in connection with the jail corruption investigation. He had initially pleaded guilty in July to making false statements to investigators, and he agreed to a plea deal of serving a six-month prison sentence. But U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson rejected the agreement, saying a six-month sentence was too light.

Anderson had sentenced almost all of the nine deputies and those higher in the Sheriff’s Department’s chain of command to federal prison for their involvement in the inmate jail abuse scandal. That includes Tanaka, who was sentenced in June to five years in federal prison.

Baca was eventually indicted on the three counts.

But when his defense team wanted to introduce a mental health expert to explain that Baca may have made false statements because he suffered from early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Anderson severed the trial into two parts so that testimony from the mental health expert could be heard by one jury but not another.

In December, Anderson declared a mistrial after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on the counts of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, with the panel splitting 11-1 in favor of acquittal.

Prosecutors decided to try the former sheriff again, but this time added the charge of giving false statements during an interview with federal investigators.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Brandon Fox told reporters later that he believed allowing the jury to hear Baca’s false statements that were made during an interview and were recorded was likely why they found him guilty.

“Being able to have the false statements, that helped out in a number of ways,” Fox said. “It allowed the jury to hear Mr. Baca throughout the trial. They were able to hear more of the evidence from Mr. Baca and contrast it with what the actions were.”

Former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky said she wasn’t surprised by the verdict and said Rhambo’s testimony made it clear “that somebody was trying to ring an alarm bell that wasn’t heard or received.”

“I think at the end of the day, this is a very tragic end to a long saga and long career,” Krinsky added.

Meanwhile, the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs said in a statement the group supported the verdict as did the American Civil Liberties Union, which was the first to alert the FBI to what was happening in the jails years ago.

“The jury’s decision to convict Lee Baca for obstructing an FBI investigation into widespread abuse of jail inmates was yet another acknowledgment that for many years our county jail system has been broken and must be held up to greater public scrutiny,” Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement.

Hochman, Baca’s defense attorney, who was limited by who and what he could present, had worked throughout the trial to distance his client from the actions of his officers. The prosecution, Hochman said, based its case on testimony by a rookie FBI agent who allowed a convicted criminal to have a cellphone inside the jails. They also isolated four statements made by Baca during a nearly five-hour interview about the investigation.

Outside the courthouse, Hochman said the jury made its decision based on a lack of evidence.

“The government has done a win-at-all-cost approach,” Hochman said. “We fought the good fight every single day in court. The jury system is the hallmark of the American legal system. The jury is only as good as the evidence it gets to consider. Here, the jury did not get to consider all the evidence. but the appellate court will, which we look forward to revealing on appeal.”

A sentencing date has not been set.

Ex-Sheriff Lee Baca’s conviction sends a message but there’s still ‘need for reform’


Gold Meritorious Patron
It's all but certain that, for his own safety, Baca will serve his time in protective custody, separated from the general prison population.


Diamond Invictus SP
It's all but certain that, for his own safety, Baca will serve his time in protective custody, separated from the general prison population.

Given how inmates were treated in the prison system under Baca's watch I doubt that he'd last a week in the general population. :no:


Master of Disaster
It's all but certain that, for his own safety, Baca will serve his time in protective custody, separated from the general prison population.

In California, well-off prisoners don't have to stay in the same jail as the common people. If you have money, you can pay to spend your sentence in an "upgraded" jail cell.

Pay-to-Stay Jail Programs Offer Upgraded Cells For a Price

Jail isn’t meant to be comfortable.

But in some SoCal cities, for the right price, they can be decidedly more so than for most of the general prison population, to the outrage of crime victims and their families.


Seal Beach and several other Southern California cities — including Anaheim, Arcadia, Burbank, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Pasadena, Santa Ana and Torrance - allow inmates to avoid other overcrowded and potentially more dangerous jails by renting the upgraded cells for a daily fee.

In Pasadena, that fee is $143 per day, plus a one-time administrative fee of $64.

Some of the programs even let prisoners leave for work.

The Fullerton Police Department has just one pay-to-stay cell, where inmates can spend $127 a night to get their own TV, their own phone, and even their own full-size fridge.

And the cell isn’t exactly high security.


Diamond Invictus SP
In California, well-off prisoners don't have to stay in the same jail as the common people. If you have money, you can pay to spend your sentence in an "upgraded" jail cell.

Pay-to-Stay Jail Programs Offer Upgraded Cells For a Price

Back 20+ years ago I met a guy who worked in the same company as I. He served some time in a federal prison in Florida for rolling back the odometers of cars when he was a wholesaler.

He told me some crazy stories about his time there. An employee who took care of the laundry at the prison would bring to him from the outside anything he wanted. So he had her bring him bottles of cheap vodka. He would pour the vodka into empty pepsi bottles, water it down a bit, sell it to the other prisoners. He said there was a large demand for it.

Little David

Gold Meritorious Patron
Tony Ortega wrote:

As former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca awaits sentencing, Scientology sticks by its man

More than a year ago, we wrote a story about former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who at that time was seeking a plea deal that would have sentenced him to only six months of incarceration.

Baca, who had been a popular (if odd) sheriff in LA for 15 years, had retired two years earlier and was facing charges that he’d obstructed an FBI investigation into his jails, which were notorious for mistreatment of prisoners. (County jail, it might be important to remember, is different from state prison. While some inmates are serving short sentences for criminal convictions, many others are only awaiting trial.)

What caught our eye, however, was that as Baca was no longer in office and was going through that criminal prosecution, he was still helping out the Church of Scientology. In the photo above, you can see Baca at an event held in 2015 by Scientology’s most unhinged front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. CCHR attacks the psychiatric profession, and at its museum on Sunset Boulevard (“Psychiatry: An Industry of Death”), it even promotes the idea that the Holocaust was a product of psychiatrists rather than antisemitic Nazis. But here was CCHR, asking a Holocaust survivor to make a presentation, and Baca attended to show his support.

Weird, right? At the time, we wondered if the retired lawman didn’t have anything better to do than to help out Scientology’s nuttiest front group.



Gold Meritorious Patron

Scientology claims they are trying to "CLEAR THE PLANET" of criminality and insanity...


Well - to sum it up in Scientology's own words....

"It means that Scientologists want to rid the planet of insanity, war and crime, and in its place create a civilization in which sanity and peace exist.

In order to do this, they must help individuals become free of their own individual aberrations and insanities and, hence, regain their inherent goodness."

Here is David Miscavige, a criminal with CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY in his resume ... offering help to Lee Baca - the ex Sherriff of LA County - now a convicted felon awaiting his Sentence to prison.
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