Tanaka Indicted in County Jail Corruption Case

AP Photo/Dave Martin
AP Photo/Dave Martin

On Thursday, two top officials of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were indicted on charges of impeding an FBI investigation into the department.

Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, once the number two man in the department, and retired former captain William “Tom” Carey were charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice for allegedly hiding away an FBI informant.

Tanaka’s boss, former Sheriff Lee Baca, has said he himself is innocent of any wrongdoing, asserting that federal officials told him he would not be investigated.

The Los Angeles Times reported that acting U.S. Atty. Stephanie Yonekura said, “This new case illustrates the fact that the leaders who foster and hide the corrupt culture of their organization will be held responsible, just like their subordinates,” adding, “Both men were aware that there was rampant abuse at the jail, and both men were aware that the internal investigations of that abuse were insufficient.”

H. Dean Steward, representing Tanaka, said the charges were “baseless,” and that Tanaka would “aggressively defend” himself in court, according to the Times.

Hector Villagra, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Southern California branch, responded to the indictments on Thursday, stating that they represented “a sad, but necessary reminder of the Sheriff’s Department’s history of condoning violence.”