L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca says the indictments of 18 current and former deputies on federal charges don’t suggest that he’s the lost the ability to police his own department. Baca – who’s running for reelection next year – has gone into defense mode since the indictments were unsealed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the charges stem from a long-running FBI investigation that showed some members of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law. The indictments include allegations that deputies beat jail inmates and visitors and then conspired to cover up their actions. Deputies and higher ups are also accused of trying to intimidate an FBI agent who was assigned to investigate corruption inside the jails…A new study finds that prison realignment has led to an increase in property crime in California but has not had a significant effect on violent crime. The realignment program was enacted in 2011 to reduce the state’s prison population by transferring some offenders to counties. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that about 18,000 offenders who previously would be behind bars are currently free because of realignment. The institute blames the law for a nearly 15 percent increase in vehicle thefts in the year after it took effect. But it says there has been no noticeable impact on such crimes as murder and rape…The former assistant city manager of Bell has been convicted of 11 of 13 felony charges in a trial that capped a widespread corruption investigation in the eastern L.A. County city. After 10 days of deliberations, jurors found Angela Spaccia guilty of numerous counts of looting the city’s coffers to enrich herself and other city officials. Former City Manager Robert Rizzo, who was charged along with Spaccia, pleaded no contest to dozens of felony counts before trial. Five former Bell council members have also been convicted of stealing from the city…Democrat Matt Dababneh is the new – and undisputed – Assemblyman from the 45th District in the western San Fernando Valley. Republican Susan Shelly asked for a recount after losing the race by fewer than 350 votes. But Shelly abandoned the recount after one day of tallying showed little change in the results. Dababneh fills a vacancy created when Bob Blumenfield was elected to the L.A. City Council. His victory restored a Democratic two-thirds supermajority in the state Assembly…California’s health insurance exchange has a backlog of 25,000 paper applications that must be processed in the next two weeks for the applicants to get health insurance starting in the new year. Covered California says some of the applications are from insurance agents who were unable to access the web site in the first few days after the exchange opened in October. The agency has added more staff to help process the applications…And finally, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed dropping recreation fees in 350,000 acres of Southern California forests. The $5 a day user fees were adopted a decade ago to pay for maintenance and other expenses in wild areas that get a lot of visitors. The elimination of the fees would cover the Angeles, Cleveland, San Bernardino and Los Padres national forests. A decision is expected next month.
Baca defends Sheriff’s Dept. after federal indictments
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