So far, seven sheriff’s officials have been convicted of obstructing an FBI investigation into inmate beatings and corruption inside the huge L.A. jail system. None of those officials held high-ranking positions, however. And critics of the investigation say low-ranking officers and deputies are taking the blame for problems that stemmed from larger management failures.
But the probe isn’t over. The L.A. Times reports that at least three of the convicted officials – a lieutenant and two deputies – have testified before the grand jury in recent weeks. The questioning focused partly on meetings where former Sheriff Lee Baca and his top aide, Paul Tanaka, discussed the discovery that a jail informant had been given a phone by the FBI. That informant was subsequently moved around the jail system to keep him away from his federal handlers.
Baca resigned under pressure a year ago. Former Undersheriff Tanaka had already left the department by then. Despite acknowledging that he was being investigated by the Feds, Tanaka ran for his old boss’s job, losing in a run-off to Jim McDonnell in November.
The deputies and other officials who were convicted of obstruction were supposed to report to prison earlier this month. But they remain free while courts rule on their bail requests and they appeal their convictions. A dozen other sheriff’s officials have been charged in the corruption and jail violence case but haven’t gone to trial yet.