Fed Judge Denies Immunity for Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca to Testify at Paul Tanaka’s Criminal Trial

A new moment of drama in the run-up to the trial of former Los Angeles County undersheriff Paul Tanaka occurred on Monday
when District Court Judge Percy Anderson told Tanaka’s attorney that, no, he was not going to give former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca immunity from future prosecution should Baca be called to testify at Tanaka’s trial.

Tanaka’s attorney, H. Dean Steward, filed the request in mid-August, asking that the former sheriff be granted immunity because, “if he testifies truthfully, [Baca] will provide evidence that will contradict the government’s evidence” and thus provide a basis for [Mr. Tanaka’s} “acquittal of the charges.”

The motion was almost certain to be a non-starter with Judge Anderson from the get go. But it was also understandable that that attorney Steward would roll the legal dice, no matter how slim the chance for success.

When Tanaka was originally indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice back in May 2015, former LASD Captain William (Tom) Carey was indicted at the same time as a co-conspirator and also for perjury, having to do with his previous testimony in the trials of seven other former LASD members indicted with obstruction of justice for some of the same series of alleged actions. (The seven have since been convicted of the obstruction charges, and their convictions are on appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.)

At that time, Seward made confident statements to the press about his client’s innocence and how Mr. Tanaka would prevail when it came time for trial—which certainly he still may.

However, in mid-summer, the odds of an acquittal for Tanaka suddenly rearranged themselves when Tom Carey took a plea deal in return for his cooperation in Tanaka’s trial and any subsequent proceedings relating to department member misdeeds of which Carey had had knowledge, and which related to the original indictment concerning the hiding of federal informant Anthony Brown and other actions designed to thwart the FBI’s investigation into chronic corruption and brutality in the Los Angeles County jail system.

Carey’s plea, which was filed on August 13, 2015, sent Tanaka’s defense scrambling for a witness to counter what Carey was likely to say on the stand.

Hence, presumably, the motion about immunity for Baca.

Carey and Tanaka took the stand in the previous obstruction of justice trials, and former Sheriff Baca was on the witness list for the defense at least twice, most notably in the two trials of former LASD Deputy James Sexton (who was tried twice before the feds could produce a guilty verdict). Yet Baca was never called in either of the trials because his then-attorney informed Sexton’s legal team both times that Baca would take the fifth if put on the stand.

Baca hired a new attorney, Michael Zwieback, earlier this month. While Zwiback did not attend the Monday hearing, he confirmed to us that Baca would indeed be invoking his 5th Amendment rights this time around, if called as a witness.


At least one federal witness was reportedly given immunity that was limited to his testimony before a federal grand jury during hearings that likely contributed to Tanaka’s and Carey’s eventual indictment. But that witness had already been convicted of obstruction of justice, so the government’s cost/benefit ratio in issuing limited immunity was presumably very different that it would be in the case of Baca, who at remains conspicuously un-indicted.

To put it another way, if federal prosecutors are able to convict the former undersheriff of the allegations arrayed against him, the notion that Baca’s once powerful second in command is guilty of corruption charges that have already resulted in seven additional convictions and one plea bargain, it becomes less and less believable that Tanaka’s former boss, the man who headed up the nation’s largest sheriff’s department for a decade and a half, is legally blame free.

Originally Mr. Tanaka’s trial was scheduled to begin in early November of this year. But on Monday Judge Anderson agreed to delay proceedings until March 22, 2016, at the request of Mr. Tanaka’s attorney.


  • This is all so rich. Mr. “Core Values” Baca, pleading the 5th at Humpty Dumpty Tanaka’s criminal trial, I could not have written a better HBO docudrama myself. The only thing funnier than watching Too Tall Paul doing the perp-walk at his arraignment, are the continual promotions of Tanaka’s henchmen by McDonnell, who is obviously as clueless as Baca. Mannis and Hebert, my Lord, McDonnell is being lead down the same moronic highway as Baca was, by the same people. LMAO!!!

  • This is beautiful. Just fucking beautiful. Tanaka is going to take the stand and snitch off Baca. He’s going to testify that it was all Baca’s idea and he was just following orders. He’s basically already done it, but not like he’s going to this time.
    I’m guessing we won’t be hearing from his disciples who kissed his ass so fervently for so long about their disdain for snitches and whistleblowers.
    To all you Tanakaites, remember when you walked a precinct in Gardena campaigning for your boy? Remember when you were so proud to write that check? Remember all that shit you talked about snitches and whistleblowers?
    Ain’t it a bitch? That’s your boy now. Let me get you a rag. You’ve got an omelette on your face. Everybody makes mistakes. You made a BIG one.

  • So, a new Captains list out. Another butch female promoted. I have enough. One wonders why LASD has the problems they do.

  • Maybe we will find out who burglarized the Internal Affairs Criminal Investigation Unit and stole evidence ?

  • So I get an email from a friend who says, “Do you realize McDonnell just published an intent to promote to captain list, and one of the candidates is a validated Lynwood Viking tattoo member with the OGCF (do your homework for those initials) and another is a validated cigar club coin holder?” And my reply was, “Yes, I’m well aware of it. And before you say anything else, why in the world are you surprised? Look who sits at the EPC and look who he has sitting at his side, are you really, really surprised?”

    I have yet to receive a reply. As we all are saying and have been saying, nothing has changed internally. And that word is getting out loud and clear to potential LASD applicants, go elsewhere because nothing has changed. The most effective recruiting tool are your own employees and the message is being disseminated without prejudice. How much is being hidden from McDonnell?

  • #4 John Applebaum,
    Where are the feds going with this? They are not going anywhere. They have already arrived. They took Baca and Tanaka for a ride to Humbleville. The reason for the trip was simply to show Baca and Tanaka who the big dog is.
    During the trip they showed them the sights of Humbleville.
    “Lee, over here to the left you have Sheriff’s Headquarters, which, by the way, you no longer have an office in. Paul, isn’t it too bad that you’will never sit in the office Lee previously occupied? You two will remember from now on, as will every LASD executive in the future, that this trip was only necessary because you boys got a case of the big balls and forgot who the big dog is. Now your lives and legacies are ruined. We will be happy to drop you off at your attorney’s office. Here we are. Now get your ass out of the car. You need to see if your attorney can keep you out of jail”.

    Mr. Applebaum, conviction or not, whether Baca is ever indicted or not, this has been simply about sending a message. Don’t fuck with the FBI.

  • Well Skipper, you might want to check the ink on your newly promoted captain. Second one that’s been promoted under your watch with an NFL team logo. “Go Vikings”

  • Well, so much for LASD, I had really hoped that we would see some new blood, and get the “right people in the right places”. That sure did not happen. There are a few deserving people on that Captains list, however it still reeks of Tankaites. Do your homework Jim, you continue to amaze us, by sitting and doing nothing and then when you pull trigger, this is what we get. I am now a believer that it really does “Pay to Play”.

  • RE: Tanaka vs Baca (Final Act)
    From the beginning of time, there has always been Bitches and Snitches along with turncoats and traitors throughout history. Judas betrayed Jesus (Christ) Brutus betrayed Caesar.

    This trend does not exclude political arenas which includes the working world.
    Remige betrayed Burns, (partners @ S.E.B…..really?) Steck betrays Hayhurst (great move!) & now Tanaka will snitch on Baca. LOL (love our loyality)

    And people wonder why LASD is the biggest joke in Law Enforcement. Ya Think

  • The author of “not raised to be a whistle blower” will actually do the “Parrot & Myna Bird” act on Baca. Ironically this mirrors Richard “March or Die” Sobel in the infamous Narco caper back in the 80’s. Amazing

  • I wonder what Cindy Chang at The Times thinks about the Cigar Club and Paul Tanaka Viking alumni appointments to captain. “Sheriff McDonnell stated, ‘I had no idea about their backgrounds. My staff said these were the most highly qualified candidates. I don’t know anything about an OGCF, what does that mean?'” Leroy McDonnell redux? I do think so.

  • I wonder how much it cost Ithaca Boomer to get that state of the art electronic shit that sweeps for bugs. Right about now I figure he’s sweeping his Radio Car of Trust for bugs before he goes 10-8 and then sweeps again every time his radio car has been out of sight for more than a minute.
    How is he going to find the time to make nine frank hooks and be interviewed by homicide re: his three gunfights every shift?
    This is going to put a crimp on him being the hardest charging bad ass down mofo the LASD has ever seen. HBO probably even cancelled the series based on his bad self due to this bullshit. I guess he will have to rely on the book he will write about himself for stardom and fame.

  • @4. The FBI definitely outsmarted LASD by pitting them against each other. By doing this, the Feds get an easy win.

    For LASD it’s a hell of a snitchuation, with whistle blowing vs. 5th amendment.

  • Oh Well: Boomer still makes guest appearances as his alter ego “DULCE”. DULCE was Boomer’s only partner in the ” Radio Car of Trust”.

    When P.T.was in the running, Boomer betted against Vegas in odds on the “Little Man” becoming the next Sheriff for L.A.County. LMAO!

  • Go back and look at who gave to Paul and this should validate that the pay for play scam did not hurt any of the cigar smokers. McDonnel is taking a hard stance on anything that smells of dishonesty except those who engaged in this corrupt behavior. This corrupt behavior occurred under Baca and Tanaka with their knowledge and consent. numerous executives, still on the department, participated in this corruption or ignored it.

  • “A tradition of service”. The reason many of us chose the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A Department rich in history and tradition. Yes, we were lead to this place by an unethical and corrupt leadership, but the men and woman of the Department deserve to get “their”
    Department back, not a rendition of LAPD who have experienced their own issues over the years. Give us our Department back Sheriff MCDonnell!

  • So much for McDonnell’s campaign promise of bringing fresh eyes to the department. His eyesight apparently can’t distinguish pay to play players from the hard working line swine. In two quick lists he showed his hand, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t look exactly like the previous two.

    Jim I don’t know how to point out the obvious without being dismissive, but if you surrounded yourself with the same corrupt individuals from the previous administration what advice did you think they were going to give you? Their recommendations for promotion were mirrors of their own careers – long on ass kissing and boot licking, short on qualifications. No worries, the line swine will just shrug and move on, making sure they never recruit another candidate to the LASD.

    You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.

  • Maybe Tanaka’s kitchen designing and building Lieutenant is now McDonalds Captain of kitchens and building…. whos picking the tile Jim…you or the wife?

    Would it really have been that hard for him to bring in an honest team to vet backgrounds….so he could honestly say to the pay to play Tanaka unethical bullies….” hey, just so you know…your done here…your topped out…finish out at the last rank you bought…or go somewhere else and start over…becuase its not fair to all that you start fresh here..and thats on you…I should be demoting you and making you start over…”

  • I would sure like to know what Big Jims requirements for Captain are. So far on this list I see people with no education, POE violations, Pay to Play players, straight out Tanaka coin carrying thugs, OGCF tattoos, and those that walked the precinct for Tanaka. Externally his people might have LASD looking good on social media, but internally we are a mess. SIr, you continue to let us down.

  • Between supposedly new leadership in LASD & the Corrupt Goons running ALADS, the deputies are stuck in a virtual career death row with no recourse.

  • Breaking news: Sheriff executive buys stolen Audi impounded by LASD for pennies on the dollar from contract tow yard. Corruption is still alive and well amongst LASD brass. Here is your first test, Mr. McD. Will you do the right thing? What will you do, sir? What will you do…..

  • Does the Rothans drama surprise anyone? He spent a career in studied self-absorption, remember the fortune 700 club? A charter member! Baca/Tanaka corruption? No problem, as long as he got promoted! I mean, who needs to take a lieutenant’s test? The well-placed contributions sure paid off, didn’t they?

    Rothans is a poster child of the empty suit crowd that still dominates McDonnell’s management team, and will continue to provide years of embarrassment and harm recruitment efforts.

    For the umpteenth time, Sheriff McDonnell, what are you thinking? Here’s a humble suggestion, I’m sure one of your coattail riders will bring to your attention: You need to do a stand down on all executive decisions – hit the freeze button. You’ve been delivered spectacularly bad advice from your management team, the same team that saw nothing wrong with Baca and Tanaka’s arc of destruction.

    Do what Hutchins did in OC, replace your entire upper management with outsiders. We need new faces, new ideas, and a whole new set of values in order to reform the department and get the troops behind your reform efforts. All they’ve seen so far looks exactly like the old regime.

    Stop asking the ass kissers and boot lickers who surround you and reach out yourself to the department’s line staff and get raw, unfiltered information (known in many circles as the truth). If all you do is hide behind your position and glad hand, you will have accomplished nothing in what could be your only term in office. The department and the community needs true reform, not the mere appearance of it.

    You won the campaign on style, but you have to govern based on substance, which has been painfully missing. Loping off heads here and there does not address the root problems – they are value based, not incident driven.

  • Here we go again, another manifestation of the arrogance that Baca and Tanaka indoctrinated into their minions. Sitting here watching the 1 o’clock news on KTLA, I see the headline that Assistance Sheriff Mike Rothans purchased a stolen vehicle that had been impounded, from a contract tow yard. I know, he was only trying to get a good deal, right? Yeah, he’s trying to get by on his county salary, so he bought a used car.

    In the 10 months that Sheriff McDonnell has been in office, he has demonstrated that he is absolutely NOT the change agent he sold himself to be during his campaign. He has demonstrated through promotions, and okie-dokie’ing B.S. like this latest fiasco of corruption by one of his assistant sheriff’s, that he is not up to the task of cleaning house in the LASD!

    Not being in the inner circle, I cannot say with certainty what the interim Sheriff was thinking when he brought back Neal Tyler from out of retirement, nor why he promoted some of the Tanaka crowd, or the Rhambo crowd. What is certain though, is that the combination of Neal Tyler as the XO and Jim McDonnell as sheriff has provided a seamless continuation of the corrupt behavior of the Baca / Tanaka years.

    Why McDonnell has not swept his executive staff clean and brought in new people is beyond me. He either has no clue, or he is relying on someone (XO Tyler, who historically has been a weakling and who is afraid to assert) who is failing to serve him well. And I hate to bring his name up because personally I like him, but Tom Angel, why was he brought back? It was my understanding that he was brought back to help the new Sheriff learn who’s who in the zoo, to identify the shameless Tanaka crowd and to deal with them, as in forcing people to retire demoting, etc.

    This is just a continuation of the disgusting, embarrassing corruption we’ve had since December 10th 1998.

  • Karma Karma Karma I love it. Maybe he and too tall paul will be on the new Inmate Debate Team that Parra is putting together.

  • The common theme here folks, is nothing has changed. The Democratic political machine of Los Angeles coronated and installed McDonnell with his campaign of “fresh eyes” and being a “change agent,” as stated above. But McDonnell has surrounded himself with “Yes men” of the highest order, who have done nothing but pushed “Chongo Fighters” and thugs as the “best qualified” candidates for promotion; all to continue with Tanaka’s legacy. As has been said repeatedly, McDonnell owns his decisions, the pink slip is in his wallet.

    Here is a piece of advice, Sheriff, do what you should have done on day one, clean house. The first to go, your XO and Chief of Staff, they are self-serving and useless. Clean house with a majority of your tired, worn and double agent EPC. They have misled you and are now embarrassing you. Marginalize a majority of your Commanders and Captains who are Tanaka henchmen, you are stuck with them, but let them not continue with their infection of LASD. This all should have been done on day-one, but it wasn’t, so the infection continues with your promotion of OGCF types and you are being played like a fool. You should have brought in a cadre of solid retired lieutenants and captains, folks who would have played it straight with you, upright the ship, groom a new crew and transition back into retirement. Someone convinced you to play nice, everyone gets a clean slate and fresh start. Again, someone played you like a fool, you took the path of least resistance. You have thousands of tenured deputies, sergeants and lieutenants who have played by the rules, worked hard and have real field operational experience, they are not police imposters. They are anti-Tanaka types who have suffered yet, continue to work hard. They are your future, not the thugs who are eating and drinking at your table, telling you what you want to hear. We had great hope when you arrived. Instead, we have great disappointment because nothing has changed.

    And to the media, don’t cut McDonnell a pass like you did for years with Baca. Hammer him for his personnel decisions of promotions and discipline. Rothans is in the spotlight, the whole world is watching.

  • Come on man. It’s just a coincident that Rothans bought that car for 20% of it’s Blue Book. It’s just a coincident that he was tight with a tow yard owner. It’s just a coincident that there’s no specific law broken here. You know, like it was just a coincident that the people who donated to PT’s campaign got promoted. There was no specific law broken there either. It just so happened those LASD people were intensely concerned about who the mayor of Gardena was, even if they lived in Santa Clarita.
    The experts in the Pay to Play caper all talked about how it gave the appearance of impropriety and called PT’s “judgement” into question. Now they will call Rothans’ “judgement” into question.
    That’s just a coincident too. It’s just a coincident that Rothans watched PT and Baca partake in felony arrogance and get away with it and now he’s guilty of it.
    Here’s the thing for McDonnell. He knows that Rothans is either guilty of felony arrogance, or he’s guilty of being felony stupid. There’s no third explanation. In either case the fortunate political birdie who landed on a sweet limb by default will now be forced to take decisive action, or he will be laughed at by not only those inside his department, but those in the press also.
    He’s a politician. He’s smart enough to know he has to make Rothans fall on his sword.
    Or is he?

  • @31….Much agreed to all that you mentioned. As far as Jimmy bringing in his “own people” we would never hear the end of it from the naysayers.

    Personally Jim is a great guy but for some reason he hasn’t brought anything worthwhile to the table. It takes a pair to truly do it your own way.

  • Ex-Compton Sgt. Zero (J.O) received 2 cars from a Compton Tow Company: 6GWV413 and 6GUH442.

    Ex-Compton Motor Cop Houlazy (J.H) received a Jeep from the same tow company: 6HKR215.

    LA Times investigate that….

  • If this would have been a deputy he/she would be relieved of duty, no questions asked. There has been double standards on this department for a long time and the line staff can see it clearly. Do something Sheriff…..this isn’t I’m sorry I didn’t know the car was stolen, or wow buddy and friend thank you for such a great deal on the car. Why did she put it in her name? Were are the receipts for all the work that needed to be done to the car. That car was sparkling clean, he used his position to get a great deal…..he isn’t the only person that didn’t pass the Lieutenant’s test…and are Captain or above

  • On about August 2008, an ex-Compton Traffic Sgt. (J.O) received 2 cars from the city contracted tow yard. Both were gifted right after the Compton DUI/CDL check points: 6GWV413 and 6GUH442. The ex-Compton Motor Officer (J.H) received a Jeep: 6HKR215.
    Per 5201(a) CVC, the license plate is public information, as posted and visible to others……

  • The whole Department, with very few exceptions, has been a huge source of disgust for me over the past 25 years. No honor whatsoever. I will retire and tell people I worked for Caltrans.

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