Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty on Wednesday of obstructing an investigation into alleged abuses at county jails.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the jury deliberated two days before handing their verdict. Baca, who is 74-years-old and suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s, sat emotionless as the verdict was read.
During the course of the trial Baca claimed he was “unaware of the malfeasance others in the department were carrying out.” But the jury foreman said his follow jurors did not accept this explanation. The foreman said, “The leader runs the ship. He made the choice to be there. Step up to the plate and be responsible.”
Speaking to reporters afterward, Baca said the verdict would be appealed and predicted a victory. An earlier prosecution had resulted in a mistrial, with 11 jurors prepared to acquit Baca and one holding out for conviction.
But the problem for Baca is how widespread the corruption appears to have been. A total of 10 individuals — “from low-level deputies to Baca and his former second in command,” the Times noted — pleaded guilty or were found guilty. Additionally, a number of sheriff’s deputies were convicted for violence against inmates and a visitor in the country jail system.
During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox suggested Baca had delegated authority to retain a degree plausible deniability. He then compared Baca to “a cowardly chess king who remained safely back while dispatching pawns and other underlings to do his ‘dirty work.’”
And NBC Los Angeles quoted Assistant U.S. Attorney Lizabeth Rhodes, who said corruption in Los Angeles County jail system “started from the top and went all the way down.”
Others convicted included former L.A. Sheriff’s Department official Paul Tanaka, a prominent Republican, who was sentenced to five years in prison last year for his role in the scandal.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.