The Trial of Lee Baca

Day of Reckoning: The Strange and Memorable Afternoon When Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca Pleaded Guilty to a Felony

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon


BACA GOES TO COURT

On Wednesday afternoon, around five minutes before the 2:30 p.m. plea hearing was to begin in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his attorney, Michael Zweiback, walked down the left aisle of the courtroom, through the waist-high swinging door, to the defendant’s table where Baca carefully folded his lanky frame into a chair.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox, who is chief of the federal district’s public corruption and civil rights section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lizabeth Rhodes, chief of general crimes, were already seated on the other side of the room at the prosecution’s table.

The purpose of the hearing was for Baca to formally plead guilty to one felony count of lying to federal authorities when they questioned him in the course of a wide-ranging investigation into “corruption and civil rights violations” in the department he’d led for fifteen years.

Specifically, Baca admitted that he lied to the FBI and members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office during a round of questioning on April 12, 2013. At that time, among other denials by Baca, the former sheriff falsely claimed ignorance of the fact that, in 2011, two LASD sergeants were going to approach FBI special agent, Leah Marx, and threaten her with arrest, hoping to get information about the feds’ rapidly expanding investigation into brutality by deputies in the county’s large jail system.

In fact, Baca has now admitted, he gave instructions that the officers “should do everything but put handcuffs on her.” Her being Agent Marx.

Now the act of pleading guilty in open court was the next step in the process of executing the plea agreement with the feds that Baca signed on Monday in lieu of facing a federal indictment for his alleged part in obstructing the government’s probe into LASD wrongdoing.

The idea of a plea was reportedly floated by Baca’s attorneys months ago, according to members of the U.S. Attorney’s office. But it was only in the last few days that the final language of the deal had been nailed down in a flurry of negotiations.

Baca was arraigned on the single charge on Wednesday morning, then at noon U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker held a hastily arranged press conference to announce the existence of the deal, an event that had the LA press corps scrambling wildly to get to the downtown federal building and up to the 7th floor conference room on time to report on what was about to become a national story.

And now, finally, there was the hearing. Now the man who had, for most of his fifteen years in office, arguably been California’s most popular elected official, would publicly plead to a felony, that in all likelihood would lead to time in a federal prison, albeit probably for no more than six months.

The plea hearing was originally randomly assigned to U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt, but most people who had been following the multiple federal trials involving members of the LA Sheriff’s Department assumed that Judge Percy Anderson would manage to wrestle the proceeding into his own court room.

Anderson had been the jurist to preside over all three previous obstruction of justice trials, pertaining to the hiding of FBI informant and convicted bank robber Anthony Brown in what has come to be known as Operation Pandora’s Box, an ill-considered strategy that was, it seems, directed from the department’s highest levels, and that has, to date, resulted in the conviction of seven former LASD members, with accompanying prison sentences ranging from 18 to 41 months. (These cases are all on appeal with the Nineth Circuit Court of Appeals). One more department member, former captain Tom Carey, was indicted last year pertaining to Pandora’s Box, but he too has made a deal, in his case, in exchange for truthful testimony at the upcoming trial of his fellow indictee. That is, of course, Paul Tanaka, the once powerful former LASD undersheriff who, even with a potential federal indictment looming, came in second in the 2014 race for LA County Sheriff.

Tanaka’s trial, scheduled to begin jury selection on March 22, was also originally assigned to another judge. But exactly no one was surprised when the highly intelligent and decidedly quirky Anderson managed to arm wrestle the sure-to-be-theatrical Tanaka proceedings into his courtroom.


THE PLEA

For the occasion of his plea hearing, Lee Baca wore a highly-tailored dark brown suit, a pale shirt, a gold and brown striped tie, and a melon pink silk handkerchief carefully arranged in his left breast pocket.

Both of Baca’s parents struggled with impoverished circumstances, but according to the former sheriff, his father always somehow managed to be a snappy dresser and Baca too came to find pleasure in nice clothing. On Wednesday, in addition to the good suit, he’d fastened a small decorative pin to his left lapel. The shiny thing was smaller than a quarter, but shaped like the bright LASD sheriff’s star he’d worn for 49 years, 15 of those years as the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

As Baca and everyone else sat waiting for Judge Anderson to make his appearance, the former sheriff’s expression was one of enforced calm that appeared as if it could easily fracture. As the minutes passed, he seemed less and less sure what to do with his hands, which he finally laid half-clasped on the table in front of him, the tips of his long fingers touching, as if he was gently holding a thin glass ball the size of a navel orange between his palms.

At 2:33 p.m., Judge Anderson arrived, and the formal hearing began. Making a plea of this sort is a highly ritualized affair in which the judge asks a series of questions, and the defendant replies briefly. For the next 30 plus minutes, Anderson performed his side of the ritual, making programmed inquiries that allowed his honor to determined that Baca was not presently drunk, or on drugs, or suffering from a mental illness, reacting to threats or coercion, or anything else that might keep him from understanding and freely making the decision at hand.

Judge Anderson explained that the plea would not be finalized until sentencing, which would take place a few months hence. Between then and now, Baca would meet with a representative from probation, who would then submit a report that recommended a sentence within the federal guidelines—specifically from 0 to 6 months in a federal prison– for the crime to which he was pleading. Once in receipt of the probation report, the prosecution would make its own recommendation that could be higher or lower than whatever probation suggested, but that—according to the terms of the plea deal—would remain within the 0-6 month parameter.

Only then would the judge make his decision as to what sentence he intended to impose.

But, Anderson said, leaning slightly forward for emphasis, according to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the court “is not bound by advisory guidelines,” but is able to impose a sentence that “could be greater or lessor than the guideline range,” up to a maximum of five years in prison, plus three years of post-prison oversight, and a cash fine of up to $250,000. Anderson’s words were pro forma but his tone and bird-of-prey posture communicated an additional message. The 0-6 sentence was not a done deal. He would look at a multiplicity of factors before making his decision. And if he determined the six month ceiling was too low, he could and would spike the plea deal.

All the participants were quite aware that, according to the terms of the agreement signed Monday, if the judge’s sentence strayed from the 0-6 guidelines, it would, in fact, nullify the painstakingly hammered out deal if either of the parties wished it.

Moreover, in the course of the hearing, prosecutor Brandon Fox made it clear that, if at any point in the process Baca was to bail from the deal, the government was fully prepared to proceed to a grand jury in order to indict the sheriff, and that the charges that came with an indictment—that the feds maintained they fully believed they could prove—would likely be more extensive than the single count to which he was now about to plead.

Toward the hearing’s end, Anderson recited some of the privileges Baca would lose, either temporarily or permanently, as a convicted felon: the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, the right to own, carry or use a firearm…and more.

In response to the ongoing questions and statements, Baca and his attorney occasionally conferred when the former sheriff looked unsure, but in the end Baca acknowledged that he understood all that had been said, and the decision he was making.

Finally Judge Anderson asked the main question: How do you plead…?

In return, Lee Baca recited the necessary words: Guilty, your honor.

Despite the dark storms of scandal unleashed by Baca and Tanaka in recent years, it was an oddly unsettling phrase to hear coming out of the former sheriff’s mouth.

A date of May 16 was set for the sentencing hearing at which point, if all went well, Baca’s plea would be finalized and a sentence imposed.

And that was that.


FACING THE CAMERAS

After the courtroom emptied, a mass of reporters, photographers and TV camera people waited on the east side of the federal courthouse for Baca, his wife, and his lawyer to emerge, along with a couple of supportive personal friends. Baca had planned to read a short statement and then leave while his lawyer stayed to answer reporters’ questions. But before an increasingly grim looking Baca could read his prepared words, reporters closed in and some began shouting agressive questions at him featuring words like “corruption” and “disgraced.”

Evidently the noisy questioners hoped to provoke a soundbite, but instead Baca’s face began to collapse, and he yanked himself away from press and lawyers and all but ran to a waiting car, his friends and wife racing beside him.

Once Baca was gone, attorney Michael Zweiback answered questions, as promised: Was he worried about his client’s safety? asked one reporter.

“I leave that to the Board of Federal Prisons,” Zweiback replied.

He and his co-counsel, Zweiback told reporters, were hoping to persuade the court that Baca “does not deserve prison time, that he is currently involved in many, many projects in the community that are doing a lot of good…”

ABC7’s Lisa Bartley asked Zweiback to “explain the difference” between his client and the “other members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department” who were sentenced to multiple years in prison, ostensibly for following the orders of the former sheriff and the former undersheriff.

“I’ll let the U.S. Attorney’s Office speak to that,” said Zweiback smoothly. “I’m only responsible for representing the interest of my client. And he’s accepted responsibility for [the things for which] he needs to accept responsibility.” (Zweiback is, by the way, a former assistant U.S. attorney.)

Baca’s lawyer also reiterated that if Judge Anderson decided to hand down a sentence that was longer than what is specified in the guidelines, “that would nullify the plea agreement,” and the parties would go back to square one, which likely meant proceeding to trial.

In addition, Zweiback noted that, , as part of the sentencing process, Baca would do what is known as a plea colloquy, a public statement “to explain his side and to express is remorse for what he’s done. I do expect him to do that,” said the attorney.

Finally Zweiback handed out copies of the one page “statement” Baca had originally intended to deliver himself, prior to the shouting and fleeing. It consisted of two sentences written in what looked like 25 pt type:

I made a mistake and accept being held accountable.

I will always love the men and women of the Sheriff Department and serve human life no matter where and who they are.

It was signed with a looping signature: Lee Baca Retired Sheriff.

63 Comments

  • No Sheriff Baca. You did not make a mistake, you destroyed a once great and proud law enforcement agency. As a result, we are being stripped of our identity and forged into a remake of LAPD. Thnx, we could not have done it without you. That will be your legacy!

  • Why should James Sexton serve 18 months for spilling the beans on Baca? Baca could get 0-6 months? So there is a potential he could serve no jail time? If the anointed one Mercy Percy decides to give him more than the agreed sentence the deal is off the table? Well if you are in court pleading guilty then stupid Baca hasn’t a chance to say he isn’t guilty. Baca needs to serve life in prison for all the lives he has ruined. If this is the only charge the Feds could come up with on Baca then they are also pathetic and stupid. This man is a con artist!!! Roll Tide let justice prevail and let Sexton sentence be reversed!!!

  • The department isn’t destroyed unless the members let it be destroyed. Deputies have always found an excuse to be victims. Stand up on your own two feet and decide the direction the department goes. If your unions are doing nothing to protect you, vote their Boards out and get someone who will. Apathy is your only enemy. Unlike the FBI, we used to recognize that you don’t break the law to enforce the law. In this BS issue Baca’s mistake was not immediately isolating Brown, filling criminal charges in Superior Court against the involved FBI agents who smuggled in the phone and taking it all to the media to expose the Feds conduct. US Attorneys are nothing but political appointees. Federal Law enforcement uses our jurisdiction, our informants, our manpower to achieve their own political goals. Frank them, they are crooks. The LAPD style of leadership in heavy negative discipline. Always has been. NOw many of you help elect your Sheriff and you bitch about the returns. Next election, unelect his behind. He should have never been there.

  • @ 3. Thank ALADS for giving James Sexton the “Shamma Lamma”. This whole scenario would have been done a long time ago. Roll Tide!

  • Stites…. You’ve been gone for how long!!!! Save it and go far away!!! Don’t come on here and fucking patronize us!! You have no clue what you’re talking about.

  • Again, Baca never ceases to amaze me with his pathetic pageantry. You ACCEPT being held responsible?!?!?! You avoided and asked people to sacrifice their careers and lives while you ignored your responsibilities as A LEADER IN THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF’s DEPARTMENT. You committed yourself to yourself.

    I haven’t forgotten the poison you fed us and made us recite in your glory…. I had to recite it to you in person one time.

    It is not about you; you disingenuous lying tyrant. You disowned your own people and encouraged others to kick them while they were down for your own political gain. You manipulated and lied to your closest friends.

    Jesus forgives, but we won’t forget. You got a few more of these coming brother.

  • #8 You beat me to the punch! “Deputies have always found an excuse to be victims?” Stites you are a piece of work. Why is it the pathetic, and weak always seem to bark the loudest?

  • @5 – Stites – you’re a Baca/Waldie sellout. We all know what you are really about – and that is “you”. You’ve never been anything but a mouthpiece for the corrupt leadership. As president of POPA, you sold out so many ethical employees, with your back door “deals”, when you should have done the right thing and fought for the rights of the LASD employees you represented, against the LASD corruption. But you didn’t have the fortitude. Go Away! You’re kind is extinct in 2016.

    @1,3,4,6,7,8,9, & 10 – You all are spot on. The convict – Baca (Inmate number to be assigned in May 2016) – never truly cared about anything or anyone but himself. His legacy will reflect that, and correctly so! He proved that he didn’t have the courage to do his job honorably, to serve the public of Los Angeles County, to serve those who elected him.

  • Was Jimmy Hellmold in the courtroom today when Baca said “Guilty your honor”? If he was, did Hellmold nod his head approvingly like he did at practically every word his hero and mentor uttered at his retirement press conference?
    Pathetic. Putrid.

  • My encounters with ex-Dep Sexton, he was always arrogant from day 1, trying to run things his own way, always riding on the coat-tails of his Chief daddy that Baca brought in and knew nothing about being a Chief of a large department. He would run to daddy for every little thing that he felt he didnt have to nor want to do. I have little doubt that he did the things he was accused of, trying to protect Baca and his dad. He got what he deserved for getting caught up in the shenanigans.

  • What is and isn’t surprising Is how self-centered, egotistical, hypocritical leaders of organizations always leave a path of destruction in their wake. It’s typical for the disgraced ex-leader to be to old and decrepit for the system to want blood. Mr. Baca is old, frail and a member of the pathetic, to be pittied set. His legacy will be far reaching. How do you instill faith and confidence in subordinates when the past has shown the leadership so willing to sell you out without a second thought. A very sad day for LASD, it’s future and the many honest, hardworking and dedicated employees. A word to the wise…don’t put all your faith in the current leadership either…but I’m sure everyone knows that already.

  • Stites is absolutely right about this case. Contempt of the FBI and stupid behavior shouldn’t be criminalized. After years of investigation, this is all the Feds have? I’m not a Baca apologist. I encouraged everybody I knew in 1998 to vote for the dead guy (Sherman)because I got a taste of his arrogance a few times. However, Baca was forced to resign in disgrace and is a broken man. How much more do you want to do to this old man? Kicking somebody when they’re down is wrong. Isn’t that what caused the jail scandal to begin with?

  • Is that Asian looking woman his wife and or ex-wife in the background? As I recall, wasn’t a local agency sent to his home to squash certain domestic issues. Why Stites on here GTFO dude, no one cares what you have to say. We the current line staff and we are dealing with the issues that are now presented. Baca goes down in flames just like Sheriff Carona of OCSD.

  • So does he have to give up his Sheriff’s pension?
    Live off his Chief’s pension?

    Or, do we tax payers just continue to get our pockets fleeced for all his white collar crime?

    He’s involved in community good works. Whatever….the good works (counseling incest victims and seeking to decriminalize the crime and keep the family (abuser) together) will still be there after he (what should happen) serves a substantial sentence for his CRIME(S). Hopefully the judge will slam him with justice and send him to trial if he doesn’t blink and accept just cause at the tune of 5 to 10 years.

    He always loved giving supervisors more discipline then any deputy involved, because they were the SUPERVISOR, not because they did anything extra wrong (most the time they didn’t do anything but be the unfortunate one to respond to the deputies actions that weren’t the best because he gutted training and no one was receiving any Continual Professional training, increasing the mistakes being made by good mind in heart deputies as they tried.

    And its just as disgusting that McDonnell just picked up Bacas emperors robe of no clothes, with the one FINE alteration of brass buttons, and wrapped himself up in it. What an Organizational Leadership-less COWARD!

    Baca and McDonnell are just a double whopper DISGUST burger, served with salty fries.

  • Hey #16 CrackerJack,
    Here’s the deal. Baca was old ( late 60’s ) back when he was instructing his subordinates to do the shit that ended up drawing them prison sentences. He was old when he decided to let his arrogance and ego get in the way of what little good sense he had, and decided to show the feds who was boss, even after being told to back off. So guess what? Now he suffers the consequences when he’s old.
    I’ve said since day one that this was ALL about EGOS. No deputy needed to go prison over it. Anthony Brown didn’t suffer any injury from what they did. None of these guys are a danger to society. But you know what? That isn’t how it worked out. Subordinates were found guilty and sentenced to prison for this stupid ass clusterfuck. If they suffered that fate, it’s only fair and just that those who gave them the orders suffer that fate. That Baca ONLY got six months shows that the feds didn’t want to hammer his ass. Do you think those two Sgts. think they deserve multiple year sentences, while Baca gets six months? Do you think any of the deputies family members think the sentence is too harsh for Baca?
    Here’s my opinion. Baca deserved to be disgraced and convicted of a crime for the bullshit he pulled with Bishop Turner and Michael Yamaki. That was straight up bribery. He put them on the payroll and paid them over $100,000 a year, county cars, etc., just so they would tell their peep to vote for him and solicit campaign donations for him. Their salaries were paid for with taxpayer money. Connect the dots. He squashed a narco investigation re: Turner. He gave badges and guns to celebrities and campaign donors so he could curry favor with them and be the fucking big shot. One of the first things he did when took over was to squash the Asian Crime Task Force. Why?
    I’m not going to shed a tear for Leroy Baca. He deserved to go prison for ALL the shit that I mentioned above. If it’s this stupid ass clusterfuck ego based bullshit caper that caused him to retire in disgrace, then be convicted of a felony and face a VERY SHORT prison sentence, I don’t feel one bit sorry for his “old, to be pitied” ass. You go ahead and feel sorry for him. I say good riddance for a crooked, arrogant asshole who got his in the end.
    Then there’s the point others have made above about him being so in love with his precious Core Values. You know, trying to show the whole world what an upstanding, forthright individual he was. He couldn’t wait to let the media know that he made the recruits recite the Core Values every day. He couldn’t wait to tell the media how he would make sure supervisors could recite them from memory when asked. All the while he was scandalous as hell. So there’s that!
    And you feel pity for him? Not me. Not on his best day.

  • CrackerJack, I’ve known Stites through the years, and he’s made a name for himself for being on the wrong side of history on just about every issue. I have to disagree with your statement: “However, Baca was forced to resign in disgrace and is a broken man. How much more do you want to do to this old man? Kicking somebody when they’re down is wrong.” For starters, with a pension in excess of $300K, I doubt he’s a broken man. The punishment needs to fit the crime, and six months for the damage he did not just to the department as a whole, but the thousands of promising careers he destroyed, which altered the lives of so many hard working members of the LASD and their families, cannot be swept under the rug under the rubric of “he’s an old man.” Bernie Madoff is someone who comes to mind, and he’s doing hard time for all that he destroyed in his greed.

  • #14, you know how I know you don’t know younger sexton? You got your timeline very wrong.

    Little Sexton’s numbers were significantly lower than chief Sexton’s and….. You were speaking completely outside the dynamic of their relationship.

    Is he a confident and focused shit that probably bucked you at every turn? Yep that’s the guy I know. My dealings with him reflect what most say about him: hard worker, tough, and trying to step out of the shadows of his father.

    You weren’t there when we watched him SUE Baca, tell his father not to come out here, fight corruption, and take the gravity of a second trial better than any personnel written about to date.

    Not tears, no fear, and told his wife it will be ok. It was significant enough and deviation from those before him and after him that the LA Times and others noticed. The point is he isn’t a wanna be tough guy. He is a different dude and he knows more than most how polarizing he is. Thanks for your opinion as we need on trull, but don’t be surprised to see him places you think are impossible today. It’s called moxy and only a few can wear it everyday. He probably told you with his crooked grin, “this ain’t my first rodeo” and you thought cause he a boot deputy he was talking about something he didn’t know about. Crazy thing is you didn’t know how much time he studied and worked at being a deputy.

    As you were sir/ma’am, I bet you got a beef or two with one his best friends who helped you get a new job down by CEN STA. I don’t mean as a patrol Dep either.

    Enjoy pill call and monitored escorts. Try not to self medicate either with your crazy self and tell EP aka your daddy to spring you out too… Oh yea; Roll Tide Roll.

  • #14 is right.

    I was there and listened to Sexton brag about the smoke and mirrors plan he came up with. It really irritates me when people put these OSJ guys to be victims. Those idiots, especially Smith and Manzo thought they were the SEB of custody because they were in the car with Tanaka and Thompson. Manzo would continuously brag about the 10-30 stuff he was incvolved in with this whole Anthony Brown fiasco, and now he wants to play victim?!?! Manzo and smith were the biggest back stabbers and kiss asses I’ve ever met. Personally, what happened to these guys was bound to happen.

  • @CrackerJack: Yes, he is an old and broken man. He is also responsible for his own behavior and subsequent consequences. Stites: I joined LASD due to its unique history and traditions. I did not join LAPD. Those traditions and history are our identity. Something the new sheriff has chosen to ignore.

  • This is likely the end of the road for the case against the seven deputies convicted of obstruction of justice in 2014. It’s been nearly two years since the trial, it’s still under appeal, will be for awhile yet, and I don’t recall seeing any coverage of anyone actually going to prison despite the sentences handed down back in 2014. It’s easy to see why. The one in charge who sent them into harm’s way pleads guilty and likely won’t end up with any prison time at all, compared to up to 41 months for those who were under the understanding they were following lawful orders. This is terribly unjust on its face, and won’t stand higher court scrutiny.

  • @Frank Murphy; ALADS and PPOA have yet to ever take on LASD management or the Sheriff for anything. As our Union, as “the voice of the membership,” they have never done Jack Shit for anyone but themselves, collecting photographs with politicians and letters from the same to publish in their monthly rags of self promotion. Proof in point, did either union at anytime EVER stand up to Tanaka when he was screwing good people for sport? As good folks had their careers destroyed, all you would hear, “Nothing we can do.”

    To quote a line from Goodfellas, when Tanaka would say, “Now go home and get your fuckin’ shine box,” they did! And that’s how Tanaka always had that ELA shine, both unions kept him buffed up, they were in his pocket for future favors. And nothing has changed, has it? Any words from either unions about low morale and the same faces in the same seats from the “Reform Sheriff,” McDonnell? Zip, zero, nada. So will the unions ever take a stand as bold as their counterparts in OC? Don’t hold your breath, just watch for those smiling trophy pictures in the publications, that’s about all you will get for your money.

  • “Baca is…a broken man”. Not a true statement. What Baca is, is the very picture of what a person looks like, who has been caught and exposed for their bad deeds. In other words, he is the very picture of a guilty man.

    I feel sincere sorrow for the many employee victims of the Baca/Tanaka “Retaliation Machine”. It was those employees who stood up, and did the right thing, only to be destroyed. It is those employees who put their career and very lives on the line, to do what was right. And they were destroyed for it. Where are they now? I can tell you where they are not, they are not holding well paying positions in the executive ranks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

  • @ Argus: It is a known fact that Floyd Hayhurst was a coin holder, compliments of Tanakapoleon himself. This Shad 49 is all facts. Hayhurst tried to play it real cool, when ALADS Political Committee announced voted that they would not initially endorse any candidate. Afterwrds Floyd convinced his “Lackey” Steck to hold off for backing McDonnell. During the press conference and photo shoot, Floyd was no where near Cupania Circle. Floyd treated Steck like his beyatch.

  • #32, Here are your two sentences. Baca your convicted, Tanaka don’t drop the soap, McDonnell your over your head an a fool…

  • Celeste: Where’s the cell phone? What was on it? In this agreement with the AG and Baca so Baca doesn’t have to testify-that won’t apply to Tanaka calling him (Baca) to the stand? Baca can plead the 5th but he can still be called?

  • EDITOR’S NOTE:

    I’m fairly sure the feds have the phone, but to be honest, I don’t remember. (Easy enough to find out.) But details of the phone’s use are all public record due to the various obstruction trials.

    As for what was on the phone, it was mostly records of AB’s contacting the feds. I seem to remember there were also some photos and odds and ends, but I’d need to go back into my piles of notes for the specifics. But nothing to write home about. The feds let AB let his cellie call home, which was likely less than ideal without monitoring. And that’s on the phone.

    As for Baca testifying, he’s not compelled to, according to be agreement. Nor, obviously, is he prohibited.

    But if his sentencing isn’t complete before the Tanaka trial, which it won’t be unless the trial is delayed by the defense (which could happen), he would be unwise to testify because he would be legally exposed. So he will take the 5th if called.

    To be honest, even if the trial was delayed so he could be called after sentencing, I’m fairly certain his attorney will advise him to claim his 5th amendment rights since, while the risk is somewhat lessened, it arguably doesn’t disappear.

  • I just read Baca’s initialed and signed plea agreement. I am surprised that it does not contain the same verbiage as Tom Carey’s plea, compelling him to cooperate in all (if I remember correctly) Federal, State investigations as well as all “administrative investigations,” as in IA interviews. My information is the Feds are convinced they know who the real puppet master in Pandora’s Box was AND the root of ALL evil inside LASD, and it’s not Baca. They know Via Carey and (as suggested to me) others who have decided to cooperate, the exact roles Baca and Tanaka took in this caper. The Feds know who really was driving the train but that will come out in court. Let the chips fall.

  • Dulce,
    Now that your patron is sunk and will soon be pleading guilty, how does that cuervo taste? Will you be changing your screen name to amarga?

  • I encourage “All” deputies to call ALADS Office and inquire as to the steps and due date to drop them. The accountability factor to the membership is zilch. You’re pretty much on your own anyway. More so even with the current LASD administration, you will definitely need legal representation. Protect your job and career. The process for reform is not happening. That invludes ALADS If you can’t beat them, leave them.

  • Argus….Bullseye. Granted and obviously Baca had his role, however the enforcer had to be Paul.
    Shot-caller > Baca.
    Enforcer > Tanaka.
    Victims > all hard working and ethical deputies in LASD

  • JOIN LASPA MULTIPLE LAWYERS AND NOT CLICKED UP WITH THE DEPARTMENT. YOU CAN ALSO GET A REFUND FROM ALADS REGARDING YOUR DUES. DOING THIS WOULD PUT PRESSURE ON ALADS TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT!

  • Celeste: How terribly horribly ironic(in a sarcastic way) that all this happened and nothing was on the phone. No abuse, no misconduct, nothing! How sad but yet poetic justice.

    I don’t think the judge will continue the trial and either way Baca will be called. I would think that Tanaka needs some one (or others)to blame?

    Last, Baca, Stonich, Waldie and Tanaka ruined hundreds of lives and careers.

    Could you list the charges against Tanaka?

  • Celeste & @47 – “The Phone”(EV 1 of ?) – It has puzzled me from the very start why so much effort was put forward by Baca/Tanaka to thwart this FBI investigation. Could it have been that Baca/Tanaka were concerned that “something big” had been discovered, and that the “something big” was something that they were both involved in – something that might have cost them both, dearly? Wonder what that might have been….what were they really trying to protect. Maybe it will be revealed at Tanaka’s Federal Criminal trial in a few weeks.

  • 48: Yes, I have thought that also. They had the phone and Baca/Tanaka saw what was on it and pursued the worse option possible. Consciousness of guilt!! We will never know the crimes that were committed and note they all knew!

    C: Do Baca, Tanaka, Waldie and Stonich all have their retirement credentials?

  • @Storm, it has been speculated that One of them went into an absolute panic, a piss your pants panic, when it was discovered the FBI was deep inside of MCJ with an inmate who was holding an FBI cellphone. There had been damning testimony against Tanaka during the Jail Commision hearings by a Commander, Lieutenant and Sergeant about unbelievable acts of insubordination towards supervision and managers by rogue deputies in addition to a pattern of inmate abuse and managerial misconduct and coverup. It was ALL laid at the feet of Tanaka himself. Then, there was Tanaka’s own testimony before the same Commission where he had his ass handed to him in a paper bag based on his incredulous and arrogant testimony. And then Baca had his turn, oh boy was that brutal to watch. I was not in attendance as I had real work to do, but I watched their testimony a few days later on the BOS website. One would have to be brain dead to not know the FBI was soon to take some kind of roll in all of this. If this were happening in my patrol station at the time, I would have called my staff in and told them to stand-by and assume any cluckhead, wino or ding wearing wing tips is probably and FBI agent and get ready. So who really panicked and created this mess called Pandora’s Box? You can figure it out.

    I’m told the OG probationers and just off probation “old heads” at MCJ just carried on with their business because Paul had their back, he said so while smoking cigars with them while discussing his campaign strategy with them regarding his run for Sheriff. And then the phone was found and the panic started followed by complete irrational thinking. Orders were given, orders were followed and the rest, as they say, is history. When you believe, think or know the FBI has targeted you for being the puppet master of an alleged string of inmate Civil Rights violations, your mind don’t quite be operating appropriately and the face begins to look a little haggard from the lack of sleep. They will get their bite at the apple of due process, they are owed that much. Let’s hear the evidence, the facts and the truth, if at all possible. And let the chips fall.

    Soon, I will leave my car keys on the desk, shut off the lights and quietly close the door to start a new life. Can’t say the same for others. Well, it will be a new life for them, but nothing they ever imagined.

  • #45 @Cognistator LASPA’d up years ago. Argus, can I follow you out the door? I don’t think I can’t, I have go another 10 at least. I’d like to go in 5 but the numbers don’t fall in my favor. And to those new Deps with less than 4 years, lateral, before it’s too late. I loved my job,my department, for the opportunities it provided. However, today I regret what you all face which was once a job where you were given a choice to make a decision. Now, just call a supervisor, it’s easier than to deal with the great old question, “Why didn’t you call a supervisor?” 20+ years on LASD…..peace out

  • A lot of good (not abusive, not ‘in the car’, but just good’) deputies are talking openly about lateraling out these days…from an agency that can’t fill its ranks and won’t let others lateral in. Ha….

  • I am retired. Lucky me. Many of you know me. Regarding ALADS membership. I was at a Alads meeting 26 years ago where a previous under sheriff said the reason the county has a budget problem is because deputy sheriffs are paid 40% more than they should be. Personally I think he was FOS and would have cut his pay. But if you did not have ALADS you would be living with thdat pay cut from 1990. Regarding LASPA membership. That organization is a joke. When Deputy March, a laspa member was murdered they ponied up zero as far as a reward and zero effort as far as help. Emblematic is their founder Alex Villanueva. Ask people from when he worked east la about his policing skills. Whatever. No organization to bargain for you and by law the sheriff will be your bargaining agent. Do not be a fool. Don’t like the administrators of Alads? Get involved and take their place. Personally I think George will do a good job. Nothing is perfect.

  • I have but one thing to say: I am very proud of our modern day warriors who keep the peace and play a major role in keeping our community safe. The military protects us from international terrorists while law enforcement protects us from domestic terrorists.
    The “grunts” on the street are the real heroes and I ask that God protect each and everyone of them. I was in the trenches with LASD for over 35 years and saw the commitment and professionalism of our protectors. I have nothing to add in regards to those above the rank of Sergeant.

  • Most people, especially you idiots from the press and the federal government, have no clue about what it is like to work in or be incarcerated in jail. When you step through the sally port at the County it is the equivalent of stepping out of a spaceship on to the surface of Mars. Your rules and laws outside do not work or apply inside. I would like to see the agents that are patting themselves on the back for this case work the old side jail for a week straight. The video would make great comedy. They could not do it.
    Regarding Alads. Look up and check out the FBI retirement system.

  • Have no idea who you are Boyd, but obviously you bleed ALADS. If you want to talk about presidents, not sure if you would like hearing about one of ALADS past president that when he was in the field, any report that had his name on it was rejected by the D.A. His arrests were for chicken s*** stuff. He was a nightmare for the detectives.

    Also, you and I are from a different time, last I worked the jails was 30+ years ago. It is different now. Times have moved on with what society wants, and if you do not want to move with them, go to the bar and reminisce with your buddies on “how it was”. And be glad you are retired.

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