In this file photo, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca arrives at federal court in Los Angeles to appear before a judge after a plea deal had been denied. Aug. 1, 2016 (Photo by David Crane Southern California News Group)
By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 01/09/17 – 4:09 PM PST |
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is expected to be back in federal court Tuesday to determine if he’ll stand trial on three pending charges that stem from a jail corruption and inmate abuse scandal.
It’s unclear if prosecutors will pursue a new trial against Baca after a mistrial was declared in December on two charges – obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The jury had become “hopelessly deadlocked,” with 11 out of 12 finding Baca not guilty in connection with thwarting an FBI investigation in the summer of 2011 into inmate abuse at Men’s Central Jail.
And federal prosecutors still must decide if they will move forward with a third charge: making false statements during the investigation.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson ruled earlier last year to allow a separate trial to be held for that charge. He agreed with prosecutors that testimony from a defense expert who is expected to say Baca was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease while being investigated would result in juror confusion and unfair prejudice to the government because Baca would appear sympathetic.
Federal prosecutors saw the convictions of nine deputies and those higher in the Sheriff Department’s chain of command already sentenced to prison for their involvement in thwarting the FBI from investigating inmate jail abuses. That includes former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was sentenced in June to five years in federal prison on similar charges to Baca’s.