On more than one occasion we have covered the ongoing case of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. Towards the end of March, Baca was found guilty of obstruction of justice (felony), conspiracy (felony) and making false statements to federal investigators looking into abuse of inmates in the county jail. The former Sheriff was one of many to be convicted or plead guilty to having a role in the crimes.
Finally, after multiple trials prosecutors were able to secure a conviction against Lee Baca. Last week, a Federal Judge sentenced Baca to three-years in Federal prison for obstructing the FBI investigation into the matter, The Los Angeles Times reports. And with it, the end to the scandal which plagued the Sheriff’s Department for a long time.
“Your actions embarrass the thousands of men and women [in the department] who put their lives on the line every day,” said U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson to Baca during the sentencing. “They were a gross abuse of the trust the public placed in you.”
This case, and the multiple people in the Sheriff’s department who had a role in the abuse and subsequent cover up, was evidence of systemic corruption. And it is likely that it will be a long time before the department’s reputation is restored. As for Baca, his conviction is likely to have a rippling effect in other state law enforcement departments. Judge Anderson expressed that he was hopeful that Baca’s sentence will send a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated.
“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” he said. “No person, no matter how powerful, no matter his or her title, is above the law.”
While it is likely that Baca (74) will serve some of his sentence, it has been reported that he is currently in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to the article. Time will tell.
At the Law Office of Ronald G Brower, we will continue to follow this most important story. If you have been charged with a crime in California, please contact us. Attorney Brower has been a prominent figure for over 30 years with regard to legal matters in Southern California.