From [HERE] An appeals court upheld the conviction of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on Monday, clearing the way for the once powerful but now ailing law enforcement figure to spend years in prison for obstructing justice and lying to federal authorities.
Baca, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, faces a three-year prison sentence after a jury found he helped orchestrate a scheme to interfere with an FBI investigation into abuses in county jails and later lied to prosecutors about his role.
Attorneys for Baca, 76, appealed the 2017 verdict, arguing it had been tainted by rulings U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson had made during the trial and so should be reversed. Among several alleged errors, they focused on Anderson’s decision to bar the jury from hearing testimony about Baca’s illness and about a conversation he had with an aide about the FBI’s investigation. Either piece of information, the defense team said, could have helped sway the jury in Baca’s favor.
But the three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected those claims in a seven-page decision, finding the trial was fair and the conviction legally sound.
Calling the case that prosecutors had mounted “fair and thorough,” U.S. Atty. Nick Hanna said in a statement the ruling “confirms the principle that no one is above the law.”
“Instead of cooperating with a federal investigation that ultimately was concerned about improving conditions in the county jails, Mr. Baca chose to obstruct and then lie to federal authorities,” Hanna said.
The ACLU has compiled an extensive report [“Cruel and Usual Punishment: How a Savage Gang of Deputies Controls LA County Jails“] documenting the unprecedented levels of prisoner abuse and concluding "The long-standing and pervasive culture of deputy hyper-violence in Los Angeles County jails — a culture apparently condoned at the highest levels — cries out for swift and thorough investigation and intervention by the federal government." The abuse includes rape of inmates by police officers. In early 2012, the ACLU filed suit to prevent Baca from continuing in his position.
According to the report:
“To be an inmate in the Los Angeles County jails is to fear deputy attacks. In the past year, deputies have assaulted scores of non-resisting inmates, according to reports from jail chaplains, civilians, and inmates. Deputies have attacked inmates for complaining about property missing from their cells.1 They have beaten inmates for asking for medical treatment,2 for the nature of their alleged offenses,3 and for the color of their skin.4 They have beaten inmates in wheelchairs.5 They have beaten an inmate, paraded him naked down a jail module, and placed him in a cell to be sexually assaulted.6 Many attacks are unprovoked. Nearly all go unpunished: these acts of violence are covered up by a department that refuses to acknowledge the pervasiveness of deputy violence in the jail system.
Deputies act with such impunity that in the past year even civilians have begun coming forward with eyewitness accounts of deputies beating non-resisting inmates in the jails.7 These civilian accounts support the seventy inmate declarations describing deputy-on-inmate beatings and deputy-instigated inmate-on-inmate violence and deputy threats of assaults against inmates that the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU/SC) has collected in the past year, as well as the myriad inmate declarations the ACLU/SC has collected over the years.
The violence that takes place in the Los Angeles County jails is far from normal. These are not average jails with isolated or sporadic incidents of deputy misbehavior. Thomas Parker, a former FBI Agent and Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau’s Los Angeles Field Office, reviewed inmate, former inmate, chaplain and civilian declarations, reports, correspondence, media articles, and legal filings, and found: “Of all the jails I have had the occasion to visit, tour, or conduct investigations within, domestically and internationally, I have never experienced any facility exhibiting the volume and repetitive patterns of violence, misfeasance, and malfeasance impacting the Los Angeles County jail system. …”9 “There is at least a two decade history of corruption within the ranks of the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department (LASD). In most of those cases, lower level deputies and civilian employees were prosecuted, but no one at the command level responsible for those employees appears to have been held accountable and appropriately punished for failure to properly supervise and manage their subordinate personnel and resources. In my opinion, this has provided the ‘seedbed’ for continued lax supervision, violence, and corruption within LASD and the county jails it administers,” Mr. Parker concluded.” [MORE]
On February 10, 2016, Baca pled guilty to a single count of lying during a federal investigation into civil rights violations at the county jail. The investigation into brutality and corruption by sheriff's deputies already resulted in convictions and guilty pleas by a number of lower-ranking officers, including a retired sheriff's captain. Baca pleaded guilty to "lying twice about his involvement in hiding a jail inmate from FBI investigators" and to knowing that his subordinates had threatened an FBI special agent investigating Baca's department.
Shortly after Lee Baca pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, the attorney general decided to reopen and investigate another inmate abuse case involving Mitrice Richardson, a young black woman who was released in middle of the night without any means of returning home safely, who was found months later deceased not far from Malibu Sheriff station. On April 6, 2016, his former undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, was convicted on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges by a federal jury related to the same prison abuses.
Below is a summary of the Lee Baca case from the U.S. Attorney's office:
During the course of the investigation that was being conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office and a federal grand jury, a sheriff's deputy assigned to the Men's Central Jail accepted a bribe to smuggle a cellphone into the facility. The phone was delivered to an inmate who was working as an FBI informant. Jail officials later discovered the phone, linked it to the FBI and determined that the inmate was an informant. This led to a monthlong scheme to obstruct the investigation, which included members of the conspiracy concealing the informant from the FBI, the United States Marshals Service and the grand jury. Members of the conspiracy also engaged in witness tampering and harassing the FBI agent.
— U.S. Attorney's office
With only a few longshot options remaining, Baca’s attorney, Nathan Hochman, said he plans to ask for another hearing in front of a larger panel of judges from the 9th Circuit. The court, however, grants only a small number of these rehearings each year. If Baca’s request is denied or he loses again, he could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case.
Baca is expected to remain out of prison at least until the appeals court decides whether to grant him a second hearing [most mere mortals would be in jail serving their sentence during their appeal. Baca is free because different standards of morality, legality and accountability apply to cops who are representatives of authority - so long as you believe in such things]. If it declines to do so, the case would likely be sent back to Anderson, who could then order Baca to begin his sentence.