Ex-LA County sheriff's deputy sentenced for accepting bribe

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Gilbert Michel was sentenced to six months in federal prison for accepting a bribe from an inmate-turned-FBI informant.

Michel's crime set off a chain of events that led to criminal charges against 10 sheriff's department officials, including former Sheriff Leroy Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

Michel testified that he beat inmates and took a $1,500 bribe to smuggle a phone to an inmate.

On Monday, he delivered a tearful statement of remorse as he was sentenced to six months in prison sentence because he cooperated with federal investigators.

"I know I was wrong, and I will forever be repentant and humbled by this experience," Michel said.

The U.S. attorney had recommended Michel serve four months of home confinement because he cooperated with federal investigators who had set up the sting operation.

Judge Percy Anderson said the offenses demanded more severe punishment.

Michel's insider information provided the legal ammunition for the prosecution of eight deputies, Baca and Tanaka.

"There is an arrogance about the department I worked in and it was everywhere," Michel said outside the courtroom following his sentencing. "I made a mistake and I did wrong."

Anderson called Michel's conduct reprehensible, a gross abuse of the public trust.

For the first time, Anderson also signaled punishment for Michel's superiors who await sentencing.

Tanaka was convicted for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, while Baca pleaded guilty to lying to investigators.

Anderson stated that rampant, unchecked corruption went all the way to the top.

Former prosecutor Miriam Krinsky said the statements were an indication of what's to come.

"It is a shot across the bow," Krinsky said. "He is not going to go light on Lee Baca and that a term of imprisonment, time in custody is the just result."

As for Michel, his surrender date was set for July 26.
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