Ex-L.A. County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka Found Guilty in Jail Corruption Scandal

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A jury Wednesday convicted former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.

Paul Tanaka, shown in 2014, surrendered to authorities May 14, 2015, after being indicted by a federal grand jury investigating excessive force and corruption in L.A. County jails. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Paul Tanaka, shown in 2014, surrendered to authorities May 14, 2015, after being indicted by a federal grand jury investigating excessive force and corruption in L.A. County jails. (Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Over the years, as Tanaka climbed the ranks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he built a reputation for being a tough, overbearing leader who inspired equal parts fear and respect.

By the time he retired in 2013 amid a growing scandal, Tanaka was the second-in-command, running the day-to-day operations of the nation’s largest Sheriff’s Department and holding as much or more sway than his boss, Sheriff Lee Baca.

But for the last two weeks in a downtown federal courtroom, Tanaka has denied charges that he impeded an FBI investigation, portraying himself in a very different light: as a supervisor who was unaware of what others around him were doing.

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