Paul Tanaka

Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

By Jack Leonard and Richard Winton
May 13, 2015

Federal authorities are expected to announce indictments Thursday against former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and a retired sheriff’s captain in the ongoing investigation into excessive force and corruption in the county’s jails, according to sources familiar with the probe.

Tanaka and former Capt. William “Tom” Carey are expected to surrender early Thursday.

The indictments would come as federal prosecutors appear to be setting their sights on the upper echelons of former Sheriff Lee Baca’s department after already charging mostly low-level officials in the case. Baca abruptly stepped down last year, not long after those first charges were filed.

The federal investigation originated with allegations of brutality and corruption against jail deputies. It branched off into obstruction of justice after sheriff’s officials found a cellphone that had been smuggled into jail to an inmate working as an FBI informant.

The officials were accused of hiding the inmate informant under various aliases and threatening an FBI agent with arrest.

One former deputy, Gilbert Michel, pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with his smuggling the phone into Men’s Central Jail. Another pleaded guilty to constructing an illegal firearm.

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