May 132017
 
Former Sheriff Lee Baca Found Guilty

Former Sheriff Lee Baca (right) with then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson sentenced former Los Angeles sheriff Lee Baca – who was found guilty in March – to three years of federal prison for obstructing federal corruption and civil rights investigation.

Baca resigned – or “retired”, if you will – in 2014 only after federal agents became suspicious of the way he run Los Angeles jails. The federal investigation uncovered corruption, intimidation, human and civil rights’ violations and abuse of power, among other “dirty” secrets of Lee Baca’s department.

Following the federal investigation, nine of Lee Baca’s subordinates in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were found guilty. (Among them, Paul Tanaka, undersheriff and Baca’s right hand man, who is serving a 5 year term in a federal prison.)

Lee Baca’s attorney attempted to use the former sheriff’s age (74) and a diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer’s disease as a part of his defense strategy. The defense backfired.

Even though the prosecutor asked for only a two year sentence, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson ordered the disgraced sheriff to serve three years in prison and in his statement stressed out that Alzheimer’s disease is not a “get out of jail card”. (A wise judge.)

Lee Baca is to begin serving his sentence by July 25. His attorney announced that he will appeal.

Following the sentencing, Lee Baca stated that that he is a man of principle. (Clearly, the wrong principle. One has to wonder how much of Lee Baca’s legacy of terror was actually uncovered, after all he worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for 48 years!)

Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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Mar 172017
 
Former Sheriff Lee Baca Found Guilty

Former Sheriff Lee Baca (right) with then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Jurors found the former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca guilty of obstructing a federal investigation and then lying to cover-up his involvement in corruption, civil rights violations and inmate abuse in L.A. County jails. (It took the jurors less than two days of deliberations to render their decision.)

A total of 10 people – all former employees of Sheriff Lee Baca – have either been convicted already or pled guilty in connection with the case. Former Sheriff Lee Baca is believed to have organized, controlled, supervised and covered-up the crimes while pragmatically obstructing FBI’s investigation.

Today 74 and allegedly afflicted with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, Baca disclaims any responsibility. Luckily, no one – including former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca – is above the law, his excuses not withstanding. Abuse of power should never go unpunished.

Sentencing is scheduled for this coming Monday. Baca is expected to appeal.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

 

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Dec 232016
 
A Mistrial For Lee Baca

After a mistrial was declared, Lee Baca said: “I feel great!”

A mistrial was declared in the trial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff, Lee Baca. The prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office will now decide whether – or not – to retry Baca.

Baca – who has allegedly been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – was charged with conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal officials in regard to a wide spread abuse of prisoners in L.A. County’s jail. He originally pled guilty and accepted a plea deal that granted him 6 months or less in prison. Only after a federal judge rejected the plea deal, Baca changed his plea and chose to face trial.

From the beginning of the case, former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca shrugged off allegations of concealing the beatings of peaceful and compliant inmates by his staff from federal investigators, denied knowledge of such acts by the sheriff’s department and blamed the civil rights’ violations on his “disorderly” subordinates.

Baca was not the only one charged. Nine sheriff department’s officials have already been convicted in connection with the case. Baca “retired” – after the scandal came to light – in 2014.

According to reports the 12 person jury deadlocked. While 11 jurors leaned toward acquittal, one could not be swayed, hence the mistrial. It seems that so far, the Alzheimer’s disease-based defense elicits sympathy from jurors and is effective. (How else to explain the fact that in a case in which many other sheriff department’s officials have been charged, found guilty and convicted, the head of the department – who at least knew and at most ordered violence against prisoners and then tried to conceal it from investigators – gets off scot-free?)

It isn’t quite over yet, prosecutors may still decide to retry the current case. In addition, Lee Baca faces a separate trial for making false statements to federal officials.

 

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