National Sheriff of the Year Pleads Guilty, Rats out Deputies, Exposing Rampant Police Corruption in LA

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leebaca

By Claire Bernish

Los Angeles, CA — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca shocked everyone Wednesday when he pled guilty to lying to federal investigators — reversing years of insistence he had been unaware of the corruption and civil rights abuses which were once rampant throughout the county jail system he headed for 15 years.

In return for an agreement with prosecutors that they would not seek a prison sentence longer than six months, Baca admitted he had willfully made a number of false statements during the corruption probe and agreed not to contest a number of other allegations against him.

“Today’s charge and plea agreements demonstrate that illegal behavior within the Sheriff’s Department went to the very top of the organization,” said U.S. Attorney for California’s Central District, Eileen M. Decker, reported KTLA. “More importantly, this case illustrates that leaders who foster and then try to hide a corrupt culture will be held accountable.”

Filed in a federal court Wednesday morning, Baca admitted in his plea arrangement that he was aware his subordinates planned to approach the FBI agent in charge of the corruption probe in her home and he would not contest he directed deputies to “do everything but put handcuffs on” her, according to the L.A. Times. Additionally, Baca lied about his role in hiding an FBI informant inside the jail system — a plot given to his second-in-command, Paul Tanaka — so investigators could not contact him.

Brown had been transferred to a separate jail facility under a fake name during the probe — which Baca had falsely claimed was a move to protect the inmate from deputies.

Tanaka will stand trial in March on charges of obstructing the same federal investigation, though he has pled not guilty. Attorneys for Tanaka plan to call Baca as a witness, and said the former Sheriff’s guilty plea has not changed those plans.

Baca’s guilty plea stems from false statements given to agents in the 2013 investigation of abuse and corruption at the L.A. County Men’s Central Tower and Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

“During this interview, Sheriff Baca lied,” Decker stated. “He lied when he stated that he did not know that members of the Sheriff’s Department had approached an FBI agent outside her home, and he lied when he stated he was unaware of efforts within the Sheriff’s Department to keep the FBI informant away from the FBI.”

Identified by the L.A. Times as Anthony Brown, the informant had received a cell phone smuggled into the jail by a sheriff’s deputy who had been bribed, for the purposes of documenting beatings of inmates and other abuses by deputies, which would then be sent to the FBI.

“This inmate and cooperator was essentially made to disappear within the jail system when deputies learned he was cooperating with the FBI,” said Decker.

So far, the sweeping corruption investigation has led to the conviction of more than a dozen employees of the Sheriff’s Department.

While the depth of the corruption and civil rights abuses are shocking, Baca’s guilty plea evidences at least a modicum of possible justice. As the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, who agree Baca deserves to be punished, said of Wednesday’s developments:

“The plea agreement sends a strong message that no one is above the law. There must be zero tolerance for this type of failed leadership. This by no means undermines the dedication and hard work of the more than 9,000 deputy sheriffs who put their lives on the line protecting L.A. County residents.”

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  • Mike

    corruption in a police department, say it ain’t so. Tis the same in every police force in the USA.

    • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

      Many or most, not every. The sheriff in the county I live in is a CLEO.

      • Mike

        There may be some officers that are not corrupt, but it runs through all police departments.

        • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

          A sheriff doesn’t have a police department.

          • Cracker122049

            law enforcers,cops ,sheriffs,do you always pick the flyshit out of pepper ? Nice try but i think most get what Mike was saying!

          • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

            Most people can’t tell the difference between a good and a bad cop.
            Do you have the slightest idea what a CLEO is?

          • Mike

            A sheriff appoints deputies, which makes up that sheriff’s police department.

          • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

            A sheriff’s department isn’t a police department, for the simple reason that a police chief or officer isn’t a CLEO like a sheriff and his/her deputies are.

        • BigGaySteve

          Every govt building has corrupt people in it.

          • Mike

            you got that right.

  • varlog

    What’s with all the stars? Does he think he’s a 5 star general?

    • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

      Uniform wearers love jewelry as much as supermodels.

    • Jollyjoke

      Power and vanity go together.

      • Reverend Draco

        Megalomania and narcissism do, too.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/political_reading_room/ disqus_3BrONUAJno

    I know a county in Oregon that would be happy to have him.

  • Mark Williams

    And that scumbag, who refuses to issue CCW for personal protection, should get a jail cell right next to the gun running anti gunner Leland Lee!

  • Reverend Draco

    “We lied – just like you did – 20 years!” *thump*

    I would so love to see that happen to him. . . except for the precedent that would eventually reach everyone else.

  • berrybestfarm

    One down. 2.5 million to go

  • BasicRules

    Corruption in LA Police corruption happens in New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans and every major U.S. city and is conducted by officers of all races, creeds and colors As for LA
    in the mid-1980s as the Sheriff’s Department .Police corruption in Los Angeles has spread beyond the Sheriffs Department. so that goes back to the 70s nothing new here
    Go back to sleep America every thing is out of control!

  • doucyet

    Anyone that thinks he or she does not lie is lying to themselves.

  • James

    Coruption at the top, Lack of leadership at the top. Then all below that did not do there job right or honest. Lets see National Sheriff of the year? So not a good one in America is what I read into it.

  • mirageseekr

    How is a plea deal and 6 months “justice”. How many lives did this POS ruin in his 15 years I wonder. People do more time for possessing a harmless plant known to cure and help many medical issues. Shit the guy collecting rainwater on his own property was sentenced to 6 months. Want the corruption to end? Start by handing out real sentences to these real criminals who wear costumes and why your at it take away his taxpayer funded retirement funds.

    • jbstoner43

      I agree.

    • BigGaySteve

      Look we are better off with whistleblowers like him than someone that would serve longer but not help make things better.

  • Deserttrek

    should be life without parole and lose of all pension benefits . let the piece of shit rot

  • cmb

    POS and entire department should be removed off this planet

  • Richard Dean Anderson

    Doesn’t help we have all the Law and Order etc. shows where cops perpetually “bend the rules” to get their man, and of course, that guy is always guilty of what they suspect he did. The cable T.V. slobs in this country truly think cops should be above the law as long as they’re “doing what’s right”.