Judge rejects plea deal for ex-LA sheriff Lee Baca in corruption case

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A California federal judge rejected a plea deal for former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, saying probation to a six-month sentence is not reasonable for making a false statement in connection with a federal investigation into county jails.

In 2010, the FBI launched an investigation into civil rights abuses and corruption inside the Los Angeles County jails.

The false statement Baca made was to FBI agents and U.S. attorneys in April 2013. During a voluntary interview as part of the investigation, Baca said he was not aware of sheriff's officials confronting and threatening to arrest an FBI agent at her home in 2011.

In the plea agreement he reached with the FBI in February, Baca admitted that he knew his statement was untrue and it was illegal to lie to federal investigators.

As part of the deal, Baca would have faced up to a six-month sentence in federal prison, but his attorneys were asking for no prison time after Baca was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

In June, former LASD Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in the wide-ranging conspiracy. In addition to the prison term, Tanaka was ordered to serve two years of supervised release and pay a $7,500 fine.

Tanaka's attorney said the government distorted the facts from the beginning and that Baca was to blame.

Overall, 21 members of the sheriff's department have been convicted of federal crimes that include beating inmates, obstructing justice, bribery and conspiracy.

Lee Baca's attorney said this was the first time in 25 years that he's ever had a plea agreement rejected. Baca was expected to return to court Aug. 1.
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