Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca inches closer to prison after appeal rejected


LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is one step closer to prison after a federal appeals court Friday rejected a request to reconsider the appeal of the ex-lawmans conviction on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.

The 76-year-old former sheriff, who has Alzheimers disease, was sentenced in May 2017 to three years in federal prison, but has remained free pending appeal. In February, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena rejected his first attempt.

In Fridays decision, the court denied Bacas petition for rehearing before a full panel of 11 judges. The ruling does not automatically mean Baca will be going to prison. He could now appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bacas attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ex-sheriff was convicted in Los Angeles federal court on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements. During his two trials, prosecutors described the ex-lawman as being the top figure in a multi-part conspiracy, which also involved his former right- hand man, Paul Tanaka, and eight deputies who took orders from the sheriff.

Baca — who ran the nations largest sheriffs department for more than 15 years — was first tried in December 2016 on obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice counts, and prosecutors had planned a second trial on the false statements count.

But a mistrial was declared after jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal, and the judge in downtown Los Angeles combined all three counts in the retrial that ended with Bacas conviction. Baca did not take the stand in either trial.

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The charges stemmed from events more than seven years ago when a cellphone was discovered in the hands of an inmate/informant at the Mens Central Jail. Sheriffs deputies quickly tied the phone to the FBI, which was conducting a secret probe of brutality against inmates.

At that point, sheriffs officials closed ranks and began an attempt to halt the formerly covert investigation by concealing the inmate-turned- informant from federal prosecutors, who had issued a summons for his grand jury appearance, prosecutors said.

Baca became sheriff in December 1998 and won re-election on several occasions. He was poised to run again in 2014, but federal indictments unsealed in December 2013, related to excessive force in the jails and obstruction of that investigation, led him to retire the following month.

In addition to the 10 people convicted in connection with the Baca conspiracy case, 11 other now-former sheriffs department membRead More – Source

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