Former LASD Capt. Tom Carey takes plea deal

ByLisa Bartley via KABC logo
Friday, August 14, 2015
File images of former Los Angeles County Sheriff''s Department Undersheriff Paul Tanaka (L) and former Capt. William 'Tom' Carey.
File images of former Los Angeles County Sheriff''s Department Undersheriff Paul Tanaka (L) and former Capt. William 'Tom' Carey.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. William "Tom" Carey has struck a deal with federal prosecutors in a case that's already led to the convictions of seven deputy sheriffs.

As part of the deal, Carey will plead guilty to one felony count of making false statements. In return for his cooperation and testimony, the remaining charges -- obstruction of justice and another count of making false statements -- will be dismissed.

Carey had been scheduled to go on federal trial in November with his co-defendant, former LASD Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. Carey and Tanaka are accused of conspiring to block an investigation by the FBI into corruption and inmate abuse inside Los Angeles County jails.

Indictments against the men were unsealed in May. Both men surrendered to the FBI and entered not guilty pleas.

At one time, Tanaka was the second-highest ranking official in the sheriff's department. But he was forced out by former Sheriff Leroy Baca in 2013 after a string of scandals including the operation that led to the indictments of Tanaka and eight of his former colleagues.

Carey was captain of the department's Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, which oversees criminal investigations of LASD employees.

Prosecutors say Carey and Tanaka oversaw a conspiracy to hide inmate-turned-FBI informant Anthony Brown. The convicted armed robber was awaiting trial when he was recruited by the FBI to gather information on corruption and abuse inside Men's Central Jail.

Brown's cover was blown in August 2011 when deputies discovered his contraband cellphone and quickly traced it to the FBI. In a scheme that became known as "Operation Pandora's Box," Brown was booked and re-booked under a series of fake names, moved to multiple locations and eventually told by LASD officials that the FBI had abandoned him.

Carey's plea agreement requires him to cooperate with federal prosecutors and the FBI by "providing substantial assistance to law enforcement in the prosecution or investigation of another." Prosecutors are likely to call Carey to the witness stand to testify against Tanaka during the trial in the fall. Legal watchers also say the deal could indicate that Carey has information that might be helpful in any potential prosecution of former Sheriff Leroy Baca.

In a statement of "factual basis" that's part of the plea agreement, Carey agrees to a series of facts related to the case. One refers to Carey's knowledge that the confrontation of FBI Special Agent Leah Marx by LASD sergeants was done, in part, as a "tit for tat" reaction to the FBI threatening to arrest a corrupt deputy as part of their probe.

Carey also admits that by that point he did not believe Marx was a "rogue" agent, an idea that was repeatedly floated by defense attorneys in the three prior criminal trials.

Carey testified at all three trials of the seven LASD deputy sheriffs already convicted. All seven are appealing the guilty verdicts and remain free on bond.

At the May 2014 trial of Deputy James Sexton, Carey testified to the following:

Q: Was there any other reason to move (Inmate AB) under ICIB control other than his safety?A: No.

According to the plea agreement, Carey now acknowledges that statement was false -- that he knew inmate Anthony Brown was moved, in part, "so that defendants and others within LASD could determine what Inmate AB had told the FBI about alleged civil rights and public corruption violations."

At the May and June 2014 trial of Lt. Greg Thompson, Lt. Steve Leavins, Sgt. Maricela Long, Sgt. Scott Craig, Deputy Gerard Smith and Deputy Mickey Manzo, Carey testified to the following:

Q: During the time of August 18th through the time when this -- your investigation concluded, was it ever your objective to interfere in any way with the FBI investigation?A: No, sir.

The plea agreement states that Carey knew by this time that "the orders of co-defendant Tanaka and others were in part to interfere with the federal investigation."

Carey's attorney, Andrew Stolper, declined to comment.

Before the plea deal, Carey faced a maximum of 25 years in prison. The plea agreement means he could receive between 10 and 16 months behind bars -- or he could get off with probation.

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