By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 08/01/16 – 6:59 AM PDT |
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca told a federal judge Monday he wants to withdraw his guilty plea and stand trial in connection with a jail corruption scandal that has already taken down almost a dozen of his former deputies and his second in command.
Baca made the decision during an afternoon court hearing, two weeks after U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson stunned a packed courtroom and rejected the former sheriff’s plea agreement with prosecutors.
After the court proceedings, Baca, 74, stood in front of the federal courthouse in a gray pin-striped suit and told a throng of reporters he withdrew his guilty plea to clear his name.
“I made this decision due to untruthful comments about my actions made by the court and the U.S. attorney’s office that are contradicted by evidence in this case,” the retired sheriff read from a prepared statement. “While my future and my ability to defend myself depends on my Alzheimer’s disease, I need to set the record straight about me and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department while I’m capable of doing this.”
Then, before walking away with his wife, Baca said: “My spirits are high, and my love for all people is God’s gift to me.”
Anderson had said the six-month sentence plea deal trivialized Baca’s role in the abuse of inmates in the county’s jails that resulted in a federal investigation in 2011. Anderson gave the former sheriff a choice: plead not guilty and stand trial or accept a harsher sentence.
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