Los Angeles, CA– Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy “Lee” Baca, who ran one of the largest police departments for close to 15 years, was ordered to turn himself into the U.S Bureau of Prisons no later than Feb 5.
Baca was forced to resign in 2014 from the Los Angeles County Sherrif’s Department for his role in obstructing an FBI case. He saw his appeal rejected by a federal appeals court judge in Feb 2019.
Baca, 77, was convicted May 2017 to three years in prison on conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements.
His department became the center of public scrutiny after the FBI launched a secret investigation into allegations of beatings and brutality of inmates at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles, as well as reports of guards sneaking in contraband.
The investigation into Baca began after officers at Men’s Central Jail found an inmate with a phone tracing back to the FBI.
In attempts to hide the inmate from federal authorities, the officers tried to erase the inmate from jail records.
Baca, an East Los Angeles native born to an undocumented seamstress, had been the Los Angeles Sheriff from 1998 until 2015 and spent over 40 years with the department.
His defense argued that his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s played a role in him making false statements to the FBI, along with him not being able to remember exact details of events.
However, Baca’s defense was unable to prove that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s during the period of investigation.
After lower-ranking officers were arrested in connection to the corruption scandal, they detailed taking orders from their higher-ups, including Baca, his right-hand man Paul Tapanka, and eight other officers.
10 other officers were convicted in connection to the conspiracy case and 11 others were arrested for crimes the FBI uncovered during the investigation.
“Now that Mr. Baca is going to serve his prison sentence, the clear message to the public is that no man is above the law,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox, who prosecuted the case. “As is evident from our work, in this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI will vigorously enforce the law, no matter who committed the crimes and no matter how long it takes.”