Former Los Angeles sheriff convicted on corruption charges

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2017 5:42 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was convicted on Wednesday on federal charges stemming from what prosecutors said was an attempt to thwart a federal investigation into corruption at his department, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The verdicts came in the second trial of Baca, 74, on the charges. A jury deadlocked following the first trial in December.

Baca pleaded guilty in February 2016 to one count of lying to federal investigators, but withdrew that plea six months later after a federal judge ruled that the six-month prison term prosecutors recommended as part of the plea agreement was too lenient.

The case stems from a wide-ranging federal investigation of inmate abuse by sheriff's deputies and other wrongdoing, including cover-up attempts, at two downtown Los Angeles jails.

Baca retired in 2014 in the midst of the corruption probe, which has led to 17 convictions.

His defense has contended that Baca was unaware of efforts inside his department to impede the investigation, and that his former second-in-command, Paul Tanaka, was to blame. Tanaka is currently serving a five-year sentence for his role in the case.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Alistair Bell)