FBI LASD Pandora's Box Paul Tanaka Sheriff Lee Baca U.S. Attorney

First Pandora’s Box Trial Begins: The Big Q: Who Called the Shots?

On Tuesday morning, the trial for Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy James Sexton will begin.

Sexton is one of 7 LASD personnel indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice, pertaining to the alleged hiding of federal informant Anthony Brown from his FBI handlers.

In total, 20 members of the LA County sheriff’s department have been indicted as part of the FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights violations and corruption, a probe that U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte described last year as “ongoing and wide-ranging.”

The other six indicted on the Anthony Brown matter will be tried together. They are deputies Mickey Manzo and Gerard Smith, sergeants Scott Craig and Maricella Long and lieutenants Greg Thompson and Stephen Leavins.

Sexton’s trial is interesting for a number of reasons.

For one thing, his case alone has been severed from the rest into a separate trial, because he revealed details of the LASD’s actions regarding Anthony Brown under oath when he appeared before a grand jury, revelations that could implicate some of the other defendants—and Sexton himself.

According to sources close to his defense, Sexton did so (rather than invoke the protection of the 5th Amendment), because he had agreed early on to cooperate with federal investigators and was told—according to his attorneys—that he was not a target of the FBI’s investigation.

Sexton’s trial also will be the first real look into the thinking behind a case that has grown increasingly perplexing due to the fact that, according to LASD supervisors, present and retired, it is all but impossible that the orders to engage in the kind of acts with which the seven Anthony Brown indictees are charged originated with any one of the seven, including the two lieutenants, Thompson and Leavins.

In fact, in a motion filed in March, deputies Manzo and Smith stated categorically that their actions in dealing with Brown were “duly authorized and supervised by LASD Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, and numerous other high ranking Sheriff’s Department officials.” (One of the other high ranking officials named was Captain Tom Carey, at the time a supervisor in the LASD’s internal criminal investigative unit, known as ICIB, for which Leavins then worked.)

Yet, as the motion noted, none of the LASD higher-ups have been charged with any crime. Whereas Sexton and the other six could face ten to fifteen years in a federal prison.

So, do the feds intend to move higher up in the LASD hierarchy with the Anthony Brown conspiracy, as was originally assumed they would do? Or will they call a halt with the seven underlings now indicted? If the latter is true, what is behind the decision to stop short?

Perhaps Sexton’s trial will provide some clues.

The prosecution is expected to present evidence that, at Lt. Greg Thompson’s request, Sexton, who had expertise with computers, came up with a way to make Anthony Brown appear to vanish from the LASD database (using false names and altered personal data), thus hiding him digitally from any FBI attempts to find him. (For details and backstory see this and this.) Sexton is also accused of being one of those who guarded Brown when he was hidden, and of knowing that federal agents were to be denied access to the informant, should they show up.

Sexton’s defense is expected to maintain, among other things, that Sexton—-26 at the time—was following orders from his supervisors that he believed to be lawful, that they were orders he furthermore was told were given at the direction and with the knowledge of then Sheriff Baca and former undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is now running for Los Angeles County Sheriff.

The defense is also expected to present evidence of Sexton’s reported early and extensive cooperation with the feds in the belief that the information he provided to the FBI would not be used to form a case against him.

We will keep you posted as Sexton’s case unfolds.


  • The thought that a Deputy Sheriff Generalist is standing trial alone for following orders is an example of some many broken things in this County.

    EPC, DOJ, and ALADS, this is disgusting and on you.

    Baca and Tanaka at their finest.

  • Deputies indicted for following orders. Sheriff Baca and Tanaka allowed to retire. What a culture we live in where politics rule the day and finding the truth is the first casualty (Pandora’s Box, Benghazi, etc). Truth, Justice, and the American Way only happens in comic books.

  • If these 7 are allowed to hang, with no one else indicted, will be the greatest miscarriage of justice not seen in a long time. Tanaka, Baca, et al,are guilty as hell in all of this and if they are allowed to walk, unscathed……there is something VERY wrong in our judicial system!! In order for this to be believed, you have to come to the conclusion that the Lieutenants acted alone, which is utter nonsense!!

  • (2) Jack Dawson, wait until you hear his take on the whole ALADS story to back him…..”SHOCKING”! Ultimately he will come out as the winner. I agree with you. He should not be alone. Where are the O.G’S at when you need them. Park that black & white and find a seat in the courtroom. When Sexton gets on the stand, he should see a Sea of Tan & Green. It would be worth a write-up to be there.

  • I hear that his Dad hired some powerhouse attorneys. No Green & Shinee…..imagine that. I wonder why?

  • Where is Tanaka? Rehearsing for his next commercial for Sheriff touting his experience and leadership? Or rehearsing for his next debates and states he had nothing to do with Pandora’s Box. Tanaka has used everyone for his own agenda and rise to power. Where is the outrage? Where are all the Kool Aid drinkers? Now we see who has whose back, don’t we?

  • I pray that at least one Executive on the Department will have the moral courage and integrity to testify on behalf of Deputy Sexton. If not, the Department is beyond repair and the Core Values meaningless.

  • James personally let it be known that Floyd HayHurst told him that ALADS had more important matters. Richard Shinee basically told him he doesn’t get to choose an attorney of his choice. Interesting to say the least. He will definitely expose the B.S. In the Sheriff’s Dept.& ALADS. Another reason for an “Outsider” to come into our “Inside”. We are left with no other choice

  • Let the Rodeo (Indictments) begin. Some of the participants will fall off the Bronco, some will get gored, and the Clowns( you already know) will make a brief appearance and get away by the skin of their teeth. Speaking of Clowns….they will go to the next circus without missing a beat. Deputies are going to have to learn how to look out for themselves. Not a union, not an attorney, not the FBI, not a clique and not the press. Every deputy employed should link up with at least 5 other Deputies and all of you should always have each others back.(on and off duty) There is power in numbers. I guarantee you that the”brass” will think twice before asking deputies to do anything to put themselves in harms way, up front, without them (brass) being affected also. May God be with the all the deputies who followed orders and were left without any backup.

  • Besides a miscarriage (Thanks a lot) – this has bigger national implications on whistleblowers following the rules and cooperating with the feds. The “system” we live under relies on protections for when an employee sees something wrong. Sexton followed the rules, and the DOJ and FBI changed the rules when the narrative they wanted couldn’t be had. This is embarrassing for the feds in LA, but they will not be held accountable, as OPR will whitewash this whole abuse of power.

  • @Bandwagon. Although many executives who were sitting on the 4th floor and especially the 8th floor knew what was going on, and knew it was wrong, you know not one of them will step up. They do not have moral courage. Hell, all of this helped to get them promoted to the next level. @Cowboy. Yes, Deputies do need to look out for themselves, but they need a union president that is willing to stand up. I have always wondered why we would have a president at ALADS, that is still on the Dept. and still trying to promote. Why not have a retired person who does not care what the executives think, and only cares about whats good for the membership.

  • Patch: My comments were meant more as a challenge to anyone left on the fourth floor that may still have a conscious. Like you, I don’t believe anyone will step up and do the right thing.

  • “On the patch” (14)…..As far as Retired Deputy being Alads President, forget about it. Unfortunately ties would still be there. The grip on Alads is just like a family business. One of the founders still has his hand in the cookie jar, along with age old legal (over 40 years) who runs shop like it’s his own house. What’s needed is a larger board consisting of independent and reasonable thinkers. No butt kissers, no arrogant knuckle-heads, and no one with ties to management. ALADS is the only association of its size to be basically ran single handedly. Look at Alads now………….Your thoughts?

  • Funny how there is no mention of Sexton’s union not backing him.You don’t have to be a genius to see the connection. Look at all of the players.To Hell to LASD BRASS AND ALADS leadership for not stepping to the plate for one of their own. Totally Embarrassing,To all Law Enforcement nationwide.

  • I would have to agree. If you look at other police unions across the country, you will see organizations that are truly there for the members, and not for personal gain. Unions that immediately stand up against the thugs in management. Other unions would never NEVER allowed this CARPING non sense to go on. At All, let alone all these years. Units like SEB are being told oh well, we need you to continue carping until next year. Deputies should not have to make a call, when management is screwing them over. Management should have to meet and confer, with anything outside of the MOU. As it is now, when somebody does make a call, and this goes for Sgt’s and Lt’s too, they are immediately ostracized.

  • Since many of us were let down by ALADS, can we get a refund from the time we signed up to be a member?

    Especially those abandoned from so called Union Representatives during Administrative, bull sh&! Internal Affairs and I.C.I.B Investigations. Considering management would LOSE paper work, time off slips, black book entries, evidence and everything else under the sun.

    Just a thought since a JUDGE had to order Macias to stay away from ALADS office and bank accounts.

  • #7…Greene and Shitnee can’t lead a pack of hungry rats to free cheese. There staff can’t get real lawyer jobs, so they end up there. I had em, oh! boy, want a joke.

  • It’s going to take more than a Judge to stop the crap of ALADS. Now that Macias is gone, do you really think everything is “hunky- dory?. Will Steck abandon his “Mentor” Floyd Hayhusrt, and say No, to the Tanaka camp? That’s gonna be a good one! The silent majority and those who pay dues without any questions, will be the first to cry foul when they get their pickle in a jam. How many lawsuits have been paid out by Alads. Amazing how when these questions are brought up, you never get a straight answer. A refund of some sorts would be in order. Years ago, Alads passed out tee shirts stating S.O.S. (SAVE OUR STREETS) during contract negotiations at that time, marching in front of the Board of Supervisors. . Don’t you think they would have had some type of tee – shirt that would state Sexton’s innocence, or at least call out the “top two” while walking in front of the Federal Building on Spring Street. Alads shouldn’t only be our bargaining unit, it should also and always be our “Back-up” unit. Not trying to beat up Alads, however I’m one of many who feels that why should we pay dues and get “No Ack” when we need them. Just saying.

  • If memory serves me right wasn’t that the whole argument that started LASPA? Somewhere there is a crowd of deputies saying “told you so.” And how many CEN deputies swooned when Roy Burns flexed his muscles and said ALADS has their back? I guess we know how that worked out for them.

    Bottom line is corruption will find a home in any organization led by people who confuse their own self interest with those of the organization. LASD and ALADS are but two shining examples.

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