LOS ANGELES—Ex-Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was convicted on Wednesday, April 6 on one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, according to the Los Angeles Times. Tanaka, who is also the mayor of Gardena, will face up to 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on June 20, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
He was second-in-command to Sheriff Lee Baca. In 2011, the allegation made against Tanaka was orchestrating a scheme to derail an FBI jail investigation by intimidating a lead agent in the case, pressuring deputies not to cooperate with the investigation, and concealing the whereabouts of an inmate who was working as a federal informant.
Baca stepped down from his position in 2014. In March 2016, Baca admitted to the charge that he had lied to the federal investigators. He was able to make a deal with prosecutors to get no more than six months in prison.
When Tanaka took the stand he tried to convince the jury that it was Baca who created the department’s response to the FBI and worked directly with subordinates. Tanaka claims he was unaware of what was happening around him. Jerome Haig, one of Tanaka’s attorneys, said that it was Baca who ordered all the people below him to do the things that the jury convicted Tanaka of.
One of the pieces of evidence that convinced the jury Tanaka was guilty was recorded phone calls of Baca communicating directly with Tanaka and not his subordinates. U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said that the jury sent the message that corruption within law enforcement will not be tolerated especially from the very top of these organizations.