Ex-L.A. County Sheriff sentenced to 3 years for obstruction scheme
By Brian Seay
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca leads a tour at the at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in L.A. (Photo: Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was sentenced Friday to three years in federal prison for leading an effort to obstruct justice in a federal civil rights investigation at county jails he oversaw.
Baca, 74, was the 10th former member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department convicted as part of the obstruction scheme, according to the Department of Justice.
In August 2011, sheriff’s department officials discovered a cell phone in an inmate’s cell, linked it to the FBI, and learned the inmate was a federal informant. The discovery set off an obstruction conspiracy directed by Baca and his right-hand man, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
“Baca ordered a criminal investigation of the FBI agents conducting an undercover investigation, and he directed that the informant be concealed from federal investigators,” says a Justice Department press release announcing Baca’s conviction earlier this year. “Members of the conspiracy then hid the informant from federal authorities, engaged in witness tampering in an effort to prevent information from being shared with federal authorities, and threatened to arrest the lead FBI agent on the case.”