Former LA Sheriff Sentenced to 3 Years in Federal Prison

Lee Baca was found guilty of obstruction of justice
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2017 6:59 PM CDT
Former LA Sheriff Sentenced to 3 Years in Federal Prison
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca talks to the media outside federal court in Los Angeles on Friday. Baca was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into abuses at the jails he ran.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A longtime Los Angeles County sheriff was sentenced to three years in federal prison Friday by a judge who accused him of "blind obedience to a corrupt culture," the AP reports. According to KABC, Lee Baca, who served as sheriff for 15 years, was found guilty of obstructing justice for his role in a scheme to hamper an FBI investigation into alleged abuses at Los Angeles County jails. Guards were accused of beating inmates, and during an FBI investigation in 2011, deputies under Baca moved the FBI's prison informant to keep him from agents, told the informant and other deputies not to cooperate with the FBI, and threatened to arrest the lead FBI agent in an effort to intimidate her, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The three-year sentence for Baca, who's 74 years old and suffering the early stages of Alzheimer's, is one more than prosecutors requested and a far cry from an attempted plea deal of fewer than six months. Judge Percy Anderson was critical of Baca for not taking responsibility for his role in the obstruction plot, saying he would have sentenced Baca to five years in prison if not for his Alzheimer's. “Your actions embarrass the thousands of men and women who put their lives on the line every day,” Anderson told Baca during sentencing. After sentencing, Baca said it "was an honor" to serve Los Angeles County for more than 48 years. It's unclear where Baca will serve his sentence, which starts in July. He was the 21st person convicted in relation to the jail misconduct and ensuing obstruction. (More Lee Baca stories.)

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