Lee Baca

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Posted by Alexander Nguyen
June 24, 2015

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department‘s former second-in-command plans to tell a jury that his boss ordered him to develop a way to thwart a federal probe into deputy misconduct at county jails, court papers obtained Tuesday show.

According to Paul Tanaka’s notice of a “public authority defense,” filed in Los Angeles federal court, the ex-undersheriff seeks to defend himself against obstruction of justice charges by arguing that he “acted on behalf of orders issued by Sheriff Leroy Baca, who was Mr. Tanaka’s ranking superior officer” when the alleged conspiracy took place.

Tanaka and ex-sheriff’s captain Tom Carey are scheduled to go on trial in November.

Both are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, and each is named in one count of obstruction of justice. Carey is additionally charged with two counts of lying on the witness stand last year during the trials of co- conspirators. If convicted, the men face the possibility of multiple years in federal prison.

Tanaka — who is on a leave of absence as mayor of Gardena — and Carey, who oversaw an internal sheriff’s criminal investigations unit until he retired in March, have denied the charges contained in a five-count indictment returned May 13 by a federal grand jury.

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