Jury Finds Ex-LA Sheriff Guilty of Obstructing FBI
In former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s obstruction trial, a prosecutor likened efforts to obstruct the FBI investigation to a chess match….
LOS ANGELES (CN) – In former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s obstruction trial, a prosecutor likened efforts to obstruct the FBI investigation to a chess match in which Baca was the king, and his underlings were pawns.
In contrast, Baca argued that his involvement in the scheme was non-existent, not even amounting to a game of checkers.
Now Baca is almost out of moves.
A jury convicted him on Wednesday for leading an obstruction scheme that over five years of legal battles has led to the convictions nine other sheriff deputies and commanders, including Baca’s closest aide, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
The former sheriff, dressed in a brown suit and wearing a black and yellow striped tie, stared without emotion as the clerk read the verdict at 2 p.m. Wednesday with his wife Carol Chiang watching from the courtroom.
Jurors began deliberations at around 2:45 p.m. on Monday.
Prosecutors said the 74-year-old retired lawman conspired with those under his command to thwart an investigation into inmate abuse at two jails by hiding inmate-informant Anthony Brown within the jail system.
That was after deputies cracked open a covert FBI operation into Men’s Central Jail and the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in the summer of 2011 when they pulled a smuggled cellphone out of a Dorito’s bag among Brown’s belongings.
The discovery led to a series of foolhardy maneuvers over the course of six weeks in August and September 2011.
Obstruction trials would expose corruption in one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the nation.