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LASD Deputy James Sexton Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

On Monday morning, former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy James Sexton became the 7th member of the LASD to be sentenced to prison for a conviction of obstruction of justice due to his part in a plan to hide federal informant Anthony Brown from his FBI handlers.

Judge Percy Anderson sentenced Sexton to 18 months in a federal lock-up, plus an additional year of supervision after he is released.

Sexton, 30, is a former Eagle Scout who was offered an appointment to West Point and recently got his master’s in public administration at USC. He was 26, and in the department for three years, when in August 2011, he was assigned by then lieutenant Greg Thompson, his boss on the Operation Safe Jails unit (OSJ), to participate in a complex scheme to keep federal informant Brown away from the FBI and other federal representatives with whom he’d previously been in contact. Brown was, at the time, part of a civil rights investigation into brutality by deputies against inmates in Men’s Central Jail, plus other forms of LASD corruption.

According to department higher ups, the hiding of Brown was for the inmate’s own safety. Sexton and his team members were told that the order to move Brown to various secret locations within the county jail system, through the use of name changes and computer manipulation, came from the very top of the department, namely from Sheriff Lee Baca and then undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who were briefed regularly on the operation that Sexton began unofficially calling Operation Pandora’s Box.

Judge Anderson gave Sexton the shortest sentence of any of the seven, stating that the deputy was “the least culpable” of the group. (Co-conspirators Greg Thompson, Steve Leavins, Gerard Smith, Mickey Manzo, Scott Craig and Maricela Long drew terms ranging from 41 months for former lieutenant Steve Levins, to 21 months for former deputy Mickey Manzo, after being convicted in July of this year in a trial separate from Sextons)

Sexton’s attorneys had pushed for a far lower six month sentence, or even probation with no jail time, pointing out that Sexton had repeatedly cooperated with the feds as a whistleblower in 37 different meetings, and had been convincingly threatened by department members once his whistleblower role became known. (Sexton was the only one of his co-defendents who was allowed by the judge to keep his personal firearms until his conviction this fall.) Anderson, however, was adamant that “the public” expected a sentence that did not trivialize the offense.

“The public expects that the police will not obstruct justice,” said the judge

At the same time, Anderson praised Sexton’s “loving family,” that the deputy “has respect of many in his hometown,” and was “smart and educated” and was “devoted to public service.”

Anderson paused, then added, “Obviously at some point he allowed the core values that had served him well to give way...to the corrupt values of the sheriff’s department.

Finally Anderson spoke directly to Sexton.

“Sir, you didn’t show courage in your misguided attempt to protect the LASD.”

While Sexton and his family looked both grim and saddened by the sentencing outcome, they seemed unsurprised. Sexton was found guilty in mid-September of this year of charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice because of his part in helping to hide federal informant Brown from his FBI handlers.
The September trial was Sexton’s second legal go-round for the same charges. His first trial, which took place in May of this year, resulted in a hung jury, that split six-six.

When questioned outside the federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox said that the sentencing of Sexton was not the end of the story when it came to pursuing civil rights violations and corruption inside the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He ticked off some of the trials of other LASD members that will take place in 2015. “This is the end of one chapter,” Fox said, “but we have many chapters yet to come.”

As to whether the feds are focusing on other department members for possible future indictments, Fox would only say “it’s an ongoing investigation.”

Fox also declined comment on the news that Captain Tom Carey, the former head of the department’s internal criminal investigative unit, ICIB, had recently been relieved of duty, pending an LASD investigation. Carey, who testified in both Sexton’s trials, was asked by Fox when he was then on the stand if he was aware that he was the focus of an ongoing criminal federal investigation.

Sexton will surrender to authorities to begin his sentence on February 2015. His six co-defendents are required to surrender on January 2.

Sexton reportedly has made plans to appeal his conviction.

Be sure to read ABC7 Lisa Bartley’s excellent account of Monday’s proceedings. Bartley has also linked to some documents pertinent to the sentencing including letters of support from such people as an L.A. County Deputy District Attorney, a retired CIA official, a Captain in the U.S. Special Forces, a Green Beret and the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


  • Unfortunately……. it a hell of a price to pay for the sins of LASD “So Called” Leadership. What a joke.
    I hope that the remaining “CREDIBLE” Sworn & Professional Staff “call out” everything/everyone, that does not pass the “smell test”

    Message to ALADS…..You too, are part of the entrenched cronyism and corruption that played along with LASD Brass. You’re next.

    Sheriff McDonnell…..Timing is everything . Welcome aboard, we’ve been waiting for a very long time.

  • Must be nice having Tuscaloosa Ted as your father pulling strings and having DA’s, soldiers, CIA spooks write nice letters. Heck even the judge got on younger Teds jock for a moment. Can you say kangaroo court? I don’t condone anything they did but it’s a great indicator of how money and influence work in the courtroom when you compare the first six’ trial with the golden child’s.

  • To Tanaka, Baca and ALL the brass, of every rank, who had knowledge of this operation and said nothing, you are all cowards. You did and would do, just about anything to curry favor with the little man. Well, there you have it, The Tanaka Seven are all heading off to Federal prison, doing the bidding of the fourth floor. Are you (brass) proud? I know every one of you and I can say in all honesty, you don’t care because it’s always been “about you.” Before each of you retire in shame, please dazzle us one more time with your lectures on Core Values, Leadership and Integrity. As the AUSA said, this is just one chapter in a large thriller novel called, The Rise and Fall of LASD. This is just the Introduction. To the brass involved, retired, ROD or in the wings on active duty, fasten your seatbelts, this is just starting, not just ending.

  • General the only Kangaroo court occurred back during the second trial. Having censored GJT read and If you think he got a fair trial then you belong in the Zoo. Mr. Fox I know you read this so here is what I say to you” pay back is hell”. The judge and the prosecutors were all in bed together!!!!! Nothing fair about the outcome for Mr. Sexton. Having a “privileged” upbringing should not play a part in the courtroom. If any law enforcement think they will get a fair trial after the Ferguson and New York ruling then they live a dream. Sad, I truly believe Mr. Sextons heart and morals were in the right place. This is my opinion but I know him. For those that don’t then keep on stomping him to the ground. He is a very bright young man with a lot to offer and it is LASD that are the losers!!!! He will come out of this on the plus side with all is said and done. Like I have said many times before “the Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung Yet”!

  • #2,

    How are the Class A’s treating you at the “Bureau” these days? Go spray his initials in the circle out in the parking lot, and be done with it. Then look in the mirror and slap yourself for being a Tanakite that got you to where you are because the little emperor “blessed you.”

    If anything was a Kangaroo court, it was the edited FGJ not to mention the no ALADS support, the threats from trash like you, and oh yea; “an ongoing investigation.”

    Take it back to R2 bro and enjoy the crop we have all reaped in LASD thanks to your dear leader and Sheriff Downfall.

    And like you, they have shown their true colors and courage.

  • Unfortunately, Deputy Sexton is guilty of Pandora’s Box even though he cooperated with the FEDS. However, they became angry with him when he refused to wear a wire to when speaking with his father. I worked for the department for 35 years and know damned well you never do what Dep. Sexton did, but I would never but never wear a wire against a parent, therefore, I am sympathetic to this sentencing.

  • Basically Brandon Fox attempt to “Blackmail” Sexton failed, (to wear a wire to record his Dad….. really?)

    Being turned down and jilted, he orchestrated the second trial (research it) for a conviction. Is this America?

  • If the fact that Tanaka and Baca, who ordered Pandora’s Box, remain unindicted doesn’t make you sick, then you’re either dumb or corrupt.

    Outrageous. FREE JAMES SEXTON

  • Oh well another one bites the dust. As much as a stand up guy sexton was, he was still part of a problem that exist in LASD. I didn’t know anyone that had 3 years or less work OSJ. So I wonder what background sexton had that made him so desirable to a unit that investigates hard core gang members, oh yeah his dad was the sheriffs (baca) friend. Well good luck partner hope your appeal works out

  • I’ve got some bad news for some of you. Jim McDonnell won’t be able to put the LASD back together and restore it to it’s previous glory any time soon. The debacle was 15 years in the making. It won’t be undone quickly. The LASD is a house divided and the resentment runs deep. It takes times for those wounds (real or perceived) to heal.
    The expectation that any person can come in and heal an organization of LASD’s size, with the amount of dysfunction it has, in a year or two is a very unrealistic expectation. The LASD is and has been an absolute train wreck for several years now. The reasons for this have been discussed and debated by those on this blog for a long time.
    The reality that there are so many on this blog who disagree so vehemently and are so passionate about their positions is the proof in the pudding that there isn’t going to be a quick fix.
    If you voice your opinion that Sexton should have been sentenced to prison, you are vilified by a measurable percentage of LASD members. If you thin Sexton should have never even been retried, you are vilified by a measurable percentage of LASD members.
    Those of you who expect McDonnell to solve this problem in his first term are setting him up for failure in your minds. I am ambivalent about McDonnell. He’s just another political birdie who is an opportunist and landed on a very big limb because he was in the right place at the right time. But I won’t be a vociferous critic of his if he doesn’t restore to the LASD to it’s former esteem in one term. IMHO there isn’t a man alive who could live up to that expectation.
    It take a long time to completely tear it down. It will take a long time to build it again from scratch.

  • Friend of Sexton
    I couldn’t agree with you more re: #8. You hit the nail squarely on the head the way I see it. I’ve thought this was more about a pissing contest than “justice” from the outset. Sexton pissed the feds off when he wouldn’t cooperate with them to the extent they asked. They held all the cards. When he said no to wearing a wire on his dad they made the decision to screw him. That doesn’t mean he isn’t guilty of what they accused him of. It does mean they played a chickenshit game against him. I’ve said since day one, and I still maintain the opinion that NONE of the seven belong in prison for their involvement. Those beds in those prisons will be taken by seven people who pose no threat to society. They are less likely than any of the next 1000 defendants who come before Judge Anderson and receive probation to commit another crime. Yet they’re going to prison. Why was Sexton even retried? Because the feds wanted to send two messages, one to those who didn’t cooperate and one to Sexton, who did cooperate. “Don’t fuck with us” and “If we’ve got all the cards, you best not say no to anything we ask”. They are going to prison because Anderson wanted to send the message: “Law enforcement is held to a higher standard”.
    Conviction, probation, loss of their careers, and more importantly their honor was in my opinion sufficient punishment for them.
    Opinions vary.

  • I think his Sgt (Sgt Gutierrez)is part of the reason why this was allowed to happen. He damn well knew what was happening, saw these guys led down a road that would eventually end up in prison, and he did nothing. He did nothing but sit in his office enjoying his A+ schedule, while being pushed around by the guys he so called leads.

    Sgt Gutierrez, you are a spineless coward who should not be in a position of authority. You are a big part of the reason why these guys are going to prison. You can sit back with ur stupid “Don Knotts” lost look on ur face and pretend u ddnt know what was going on, but we know the truth and soon everyone else will too.

  • Judge Anderson is a racist that should not be on the bench!!! Why would he bring up in court anything to do with Ferguson?????? Or his privileged upbringing ??? Anderson was mad because people wrote support letters that james wasn’t a threat to society???? Well he isn’t !! what does that have to do with this case????? There is a special place that God has set aside for people like Judge Anderson and Brandon Fox and it may take years for them to get there but they are going!!!
    James is going to jail but he stood up to the asshole FEDS and I couldn’t be prouder of him for it!!!! All you bloggers on here can say what you want about him. He knows in his heart what happened and the Feds can never take that away from him. God Speed and you will have the last word!!! Like I said “the fat lady hasn’t sung yet”.

  • He is a convicted felon. I doubt he will win in his appeal although I am supportive. I understand his dad said this was just a pissing contest between the Feds and the Sheriff’s Department. Instead of seeing the peril to his son, he saw politics. No doubt his decade in Office as a Sheriff and his relationship with Baca skewed his judgement. I wonder if the Sexton family will be sending a Christmas card to Lee this year! Any thoughts?

  • So what if Sexton DID wear a wire, but informed his dad he was wearing one ?

    Also, isn’t California a 2 party consent state where all parties to the conversation must be informed (else it’s considered an illegal wiretap) ?

  • #18,

    It’s also illegal to smuggle a phone into a jail unless you are the Feds. So it is also legal to ask people to wear wires…

    Also, Leah Marx wore a recording device while her and her CJ lover boy discussed use of force and the tattoos on her hip over breakfast. He didn’t know he was being recorded. I guess that was an illegal wiretap Percy Anderson just happened to allow into open court.

  • @ 16

    Calling out the judge and feds is going to accomplish what? The feds had nothing to do with the corruption within LASD, that is all on leadership at every level across the department.

    I know deputies that have been discriminated against, retaliated against, wrongfully terminated, denied advancement all at the hands of Executives. LASD is its own worst enemy.

    @ 16 you have made it clear Sexton is your man, which is fine but your comments about the Judge and the feds is out of line.

    Regarding the support letters, Judge Anderson already said he was disgusted with pandora’s box, so why would he want to receive letters about someone who played a role? If you are on patrol and you do a T-Stop, when you make contact with the driver are you going to care to hear about who they know and why they shouldn’t get a ticket. That makes you want to write the ticket even more, because who they know has nothing to do with the violation they committed. What did the letters have to do with the fact Sexton was found guilty by a jury? That is probably why Judge Anderson spoke about him being privileged and probably why he sentence him to the time he got.

    My comment is not to dispute or discuss the facts of Sexton’s case or rather he should go to jail or serve probation. My comment is more about making you aware you should slow your role on the foul comments about federal officials and leave God out of your B.S..

    I close with this, you are so proud that Sexton stood up to the feds, but you are not disappoint in him for getting himself involved with pandora’s box in the first?

  • It is crazy for some of you to pound your chest in defending Sexton. Without his computer skills Pandora’s box might have not gotten so far into this mess. He has admitted he participated in this by choice. Military training, education, academy, give the guy credit for saying what he chose to do. I think he got credit for being a whistleblower as he got a fairly light sentence and he gets to go home to serve his time. Say thanks as it could be worse.
    What about the “6” others that did not have the computer skills. I do think that they all made huge mistakes following orders for upper management.
    Maybe when the others get racked over the coals we might find out what they were told. It will end with Baca where it should.

  • #20, Brandon Fox I knew you read this blog!! The
    FEDS cheated and lied to win a convection. I would have respected their case if they had let all the evidence in and let they chips fall where they may. Why should I leave God out of anything to do with the FEDS? FBI is a US government agency. Our government voted to put “in God we trust” on our Currency. They haven’t thrown GOD out of the equation!!! I stand by every statement I made. YES! I AM PROUD OF JAMES SEXTON!

  • Bottom line is that everyone in LASD has to pay. Some a little, some a lot.

    Some in Pandora’s box don’t deserve prison and some particular one(s) does. (No names please.) .

    Word in the yard (Federal) is that…..IT AIN’T OVER

  • @ 22

    Brandon Fox? That is funny… I am sure he is probably busy preparing chapter 2 of the new LASD cases jumping off in 2015.

    Why are you crying foul on the way the feds got their convictions? LASD does the same thing. And what evidence did they not let in? Sexton spilling his guts about pandora’s box to the grand jury… Even if he cooperate it is the federal prosecutors decision if they will cut a deal. It seems like Sexton did not cooperate to the extent they felt his information was useful to bring down the bigger fish.

    @ 22 read what @ 21 had to say. I expect you to stand by what you said, because you said it. My question is now that Sexton has been sentence are you going to write letters, put money on his books, continue to fraternize with him at the expense of it possibly effecting your law enforcement employment?

    Best friend or not, I could not be proud of someone who participated in the cover up of deputies who allowed jail rapes, great bodily harm assaults, drug smuggling, deputy jail gang cliques and many other egregious acts of misconduct to take place within the jails.

  • Sexton never allowed rapes or drug smuggling in fact he was a target because ratted on the deputies that did. Shine you need to get your facts straight!

  • shine some light,
    Since you’re such a big fan of the feds and seem to have all the answers, perhaps you could tell us why Baca and or Tanaka have not been indicted.
    Naw, nevermind. You would probably answer with the same old “Give them time” bullshit.
    Could you please spare us implying that the Pandora’s Box clusterfuck was about justice. We aren’t those idiots Jonathan Gruber was referring to

  • If for nothing else, Sexton was guilty of taking advantage of the corruption of the in Sheriff’s department. He was the son of division chief, and was benefiting by it. The same corruption brought him down. He was the unlucky one, there are many Sheriff deputies holding high ranks without merit, and they will probably will never be punished. Such is life…

  • Handicapper,
    Re: your comment in #17, here’s my thoughts. Ted Sexton is probably on prescribed meds. due to suffering from sleep deprivation. If Ted hadn’t got so tight with Leroy, his kid probably would of never even applied for the LASD. It’s a no-brainer that his kid wouldn’t of been assigned to OSJ with less than three years on if not for Ted’s chummy relationship with Baca.
    I doubt the former Sheriff of The Year will be getting a Christmas card from any of the Sextons.

  • In reality, six of these folks will be checking themselves into the Feds on or about Friday, January 2, and by Monday, January 5, the fellas at OSJ, MCJ and elsewhere will be yucking it up and going about their business. Soon, they will be a punchline for cheap shot jokes in briefing and over coffee. Shortly thereafter, other than the families, all of these folks will become a distant memory. Tanaka will continue with his life over the holidays and hold his city council meetings talking about accountability and ethics while Baca plays with his bubble wand and talking sock puppet. You guys, and so many others were simply used.

  • I’ll never forget the whole Pandora’s box. I am reminded every time ALADS rears it ugly head and how they screwed over Sexton and many other deputies with ALADS “Sham A Lam” process of procurement of legal services for “certain deputies” and not all.

    To all dues paying deputies. …..Revision or Revolt.

  • The truth of the matter is….that re: Sexton in his spot @ OSS and anyone else in positions in LASD without qualifications were predicated on “Personal Relationships” ( be it over beers, in someone’s bedroom or back door deals) and not a standard of true Promotion or Professionalism. ( remember Sue?)
    It was just a matter of time before LASD imploded. There should be no tears behind the downfall of Leadership in the department.

    Not trying to beat a dead horse, but ALADS…..Unless you come clean, You’re next. Documentation is forthcoming. Remember this post, for you shall refer back to it.

  • Truth Serum, did I hear right and the king of union sleaze, Les Robbins, is back at his alma mater measuring curtains? It’s way overdue for ALADS to be done with, wipe the slate clean, and start anew. As the old saying goes, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

  • I hope nobody from LASD was at attendance of this so called charity event. I have a feeling this is not going to go over well for active law enforcement who was present and stayed at the event even after the Micheal Brown song.

    Elk Lodge in Glendale, CA hosted the event.

    Watch “Michael Brown — Horrific Racist Song At Charity …” on YouTube
    Michael Brown — Horrific Racist Song At Charity …: http://youtu.be/aEHVJCl1_2Y

  • @LATBG: I have been asking around and yes Les Robbins is back, but supposedly only for a year, while the “outsider” gets his feet underneath him. Apparently, some people on the board and others with a legal opinion, with some influence, just can’t let go of the past. It’s a slow process, but give them enough rope……..

  • If I went to a retirement party to honor the service of a friend and some goof ball sang this song, I would think what is this knuckhead doing? However I would still want to wish my friend well. I would stay and do just that.

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