Ex-Sheriff Lee Baca Target of Federal Prosecutor’s Unsparing Closing Argument in Obstruction of Justice Trial

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Lee Baca spent 15 years as sheriff of Los Angeles County building a reputation as an ethical and transparent leader with creative, progressive ideas on law enforcement.

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his wife, Carol Chiang, arrive at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles in December 2016 for his trial. Baca is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his wife, Carol Chiang, arrive at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles in December 2016 for his trial. Baca is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A federal prosecutor Monday needed only about 90 minutes to dismantle that glowing portrait of Baca and replace it with a far more sinister portrayal as the former sheriff’s obstruction of justice trial came to a close.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox delivered an unsparing closing argument to jurors, recapping nearly two weeks of testimony and evidence that he said prove Baca willfully participated in a 2011 plan to interfere with an FBI probe into widespread inmate abuse by deputies in county jails.

Fox presented Baca as a petty, territorial figure who “gave lip service” to repeated warnings about his jails and then grew furious when he learned federal agents had launched a secret investigation into the lockup facilities.

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