Los Angeles County Mens Central jail

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Men’s Central Jail facility in Los Angeles is shown. The FBI enlisted Anthony Brown, an inmate in the Men’s Central Jail, to collect information on allegedly abusive and corrupt deputies. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

By Shelby Grad
May 14, 2015

The widening scandal at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has at its center a top-secret operation that federal prosecutors said amounted to an outrageous case of obstruction of justice.

Here’s a primer on “Operation Pandora’s Box” from the Los Angeles Times archives:

What was Operation Pandora’s Box?

It was launched after sheriff’s officials learned in the summer of 2011 that the FBI had enlisted Anthony Brown, an inmate in the Men’s Central Jail, to collect information on allegedly abusive and corrupt deputies.

In an unusual move, sheriff’s officials responded by moving the convicted bank robber to a different jail under a fake name.

They assigned at least 13 deputies to watch him around the clock, according to documents reviewed by The Times. And when the operation was over, the deputies received an internal email thanking them for helping “without asking to many questions and prying into the investigation at hand.”

Sheriff Lee Baca has said Brown was moved, not to hide him from the FBI, but to protect him from deputies because he was “snitching” on them.

Prosecutors allege the goal was to hide Brown from the FBI.

What was the role of former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was indicted Thursday on corruption charges?

To read entire story, click here.