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Ex-L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca’s Retrial Opens With Focus on His Close Ties to Disgraced Aide

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In their second attempt to convince a jury that former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca conspired to thwart the FBI from investigating abusive deputies in his jails, federal prosecutors on Friday focused on the lawman’s relationship with his then-second in command.

Jurors in Baca’s first trial late last year voted 11-1 for the ex-sheriff’s acquittal, saying in interviews that they believed Baca did not know his subordinates were taking steps to impede the FBI.

In the retrial that began with opening statements Friday, prosecutors sought to emphasize Baca’s relationship with his right-hand man, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

“Mr. Baca ran the conspiracy like he ran the Sheriff’s Department,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox told jurors. “While he was at the top of it, he put one man in charge of running the day-to-day.”

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