LOS ANGELES—Former Los Angeles County sheriff, Lee Baca, is awaiting a verdict regarding two felony charges he is facing for obstruction of justice.
Sheriff Lee Baca is accused of conspiracy to commit, and committing obstruction of justice from August 2011 to September 2011. The former sheriff faces an additional charge for providing false statements to federal investigators in April 2013. The prosecution alleged that Baca attempted to undermine federal authorities investigating inmate abuse within the Los Angeles jail system.
The conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison. The obstruction count carries a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
“He wanted to ensure that no outside law enforcement would police the jails,” said Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Fox to the jury which consisted of 6 males and 6 females. Closing arguments occurred on Monday, December 19 and the jury held their first day of deliberations on Tuesday, December 20.
The defense team, led by defense attorney Nathan Hochman, attests that Baca’s Undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, is responsible for the department’s lack of cooperation with federal investigators. Tanaka was found guilty of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice by a federal jury in April 2016. He has been sentenced to 5 years in prison, following his release he is subject to two years of supervision and a fine of $7,500.
Twenty members of Baca’s department have already been convicted on various charges related to the federal investigation. If convicted, Baca could face up to 15 years in prison. Jurors are scheduled to resume deliberations daily until a verdict is reached.