Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Ordered to Surrender to Serve His Prison Sentence
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was ordered Thursday to surrender to authorities to serve his three-year prison sentence for obstructing a federal investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
A federal judge ordered Baca, 77, to begin serving his prison term by Feb. 5, authorities said.
Baca was sentenced in 2017, when a jury found he orchestrated a 2011 plan to interfere with an FBI probe into abuses at the Los Angeles County jail system and then lied to prosecutors, according to the Department of Justice.
He was convicted of three felony counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statement to federal investigators.
Baca, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, filed to have his case reopened but on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had also previously ruled that he had received a fair trial, the Associated Press reported.
The former sheriff, who stepped down in 2014 during the federal investigation, had remained free during his appeals.
The county’s jail system had for years been the subject of allegations of inmate abuse and cover-ups. Baca, who spent nearly 15 years as sheriff, “wanted to avoid federal scrutiny of his troubled jails,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said after Baca’s conviction.
Nine other members of the Sheriff’s Department were convicted in the obstruction scheme, including Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
Eleven former deputies were also convicted of federal charges related to unprovoked beatings of inmates and subsequent cover-ups while Baca was in office, according to the DOJ.
“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” Judge Percy Anderson said after the convictions.
Baca and other commanders at the department found out that the FBI had an inmate informant at the Men’s Central Jail and tried to hide him to stop the feds from getting any information, the case against them revealed.
They also threatened to arrest the lead FBI agent in the jail abuse investigation, the DOJ said.
Judge Anderson ordered Baca to surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons within 21 days.