INDICTMENTS DEMONSTRATE: “INSTITUTIONALIZED BEHAVIOR” AND DEPUTIES WHO THOUGHT THEY WERE” ABOVE THE LAW”
At 1 pm Monday, United States Attorney Andre Birotte announced the filing of 5 criminal cases that include indictments for a total of 18 current or one-time deputy sheriffs of various ranks that were unsealed today as part of the FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights violations and corruption involving members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, that Birotte described as “ongoing and wide-ranging.”
Four grand jury indictments and one criminal complaint allege crimes that include “unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail.”
Federal authorities announced the charges after 16 of the defendants were taken into custody earlier today. Those defendants are expected to be arraigned on the charges this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
“The five cases allege a wide scope of illegal conduct,” said US Attorney Birotte. “This investigation started by focusing on misconduct in county jails, and we uncovered examples of civil rights violations that included excessive force and unlawful arrests.
“Our investigation also found that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum,” said Birotte. “In fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized.
“The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law. Instead of cooperating with the federal investigation to ensure that corrupt law enforcement officers would be brought to justice, the defendants in this case are accused of taking affirmative steps designed to ensure that light would not shine on illegal conduct that violated basic constitutional rights.”
Many of those listed in the five groups of indictments were already been arrested when the feds announced the indictments Monday morning, however other arrests were still taking place by the time of the 1 pm press conference.
INDICTMENTS AROUND “OPERATION PANDORA’S BOX”- THE HIDING OF FEDERAL INFORMANT ANTHONY BROWN
Among the five criminal cases announced Monday, is the case known as United States v. Thomson, et al, which has to do with the department’s hiding of FBI informant Anthony Brown. (We wrote extensively about the circumstances underlying the case here.)
Seven people were indicted with regard to the operation in which two LASD teams allegedly hid and/or aggressively debriefed federal informant Anthony Brown who, while an inmate in the jails, was recruited by the FBI to report on possible wrongdoing by deputies, as a part fo the feds’ then widening investigation into brutality and corruption on the county’s jails.
Among those indicted Monday on the Brown matter are Gregory Thompson, Steven Leavins, Gerard Smith, Mikey Manzo, James Sexton, Scott Craig and Maricela Long.
Thompson, now retired ahead of being fired by the LASD, was the lieutenant whose team of more than a dozen deputies did the physical (and cyber) hiding of informant Brown. Smith, Manzo, and Sexton worked under Thompson.
Leavins was the leader of the team that reportedly did the secret debriefing of Brown.
Craig and Long are the two sergeants in the Internal Criminal investigations Bureau (ICIB) of the LASD, who were allegedly sent out to threaten and intimidate Brown’s FBI handler, showing up at her private home late at night, telling her they planned to arrest her in the hope of getting information out of her.
Many LASD watchers were surprised to hear that James Sexton was on the indictment list since, along with his LASD work partner, Mike Rathbun, he was—and still is—a whistleblower, both in the Anthony Brown federal case and in another case involving a jails deputy who was allegedly doing favors for an inmate who was reportedly a shot caller in the jail for white supremacist groups. (Details on that case are here.)
WHAT ABOUT THE BIG FISH?
Clearly Thompson, Leavins, the two ICIB sergeants, and the deputies working under Thompson, did not take it upon themselves to hide Anthony Brown. They were ordered to do so.
According to multiple sources, the person to whom Thompson and Leavins reported on the operation was former LASD undersheriff Paul Tanaka. However there are several reports that Sheriff Lee Baca was briefed on the operation all along the way.
It is unclear who ordered Sergeants Craig and Long to go to the FBI agent’s home to allegedly try to get information from her using threats and intimidation, but according to our sources, at least one of the sergeants reported about the trip to Sheriff Lee Baca.
So will people higher up the food chain be indicted?
We would be stunned if that were not the case. As to how high those indictments might go….that’s the zillion dollar question.
THE SHERIFF RESPONDS TO THE INDICTMENTS
At a press conference held at 3:30 on Monday afternoon, Sheriff Baca first made a brief statement, then responded to reporters’ questions about the just handed down indictments.
“While the indictments were not unexpected,” he said, “it is a sad day for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.” The sheriff also assured the crowd that the LASD was fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Reporters asked Baca if federal informant Anthony Brown was deliberately kept away from the FBI and whether he, Baca, was aware that two of his sergeants went to a federal agent’s house.
Baca essentially did not answer either question, but said that he could not comment on the feds’ facts. “It’s not my desire or to probe their investigation before it’s completed,” he said specifically when asked about the sergeants and the wee hours visit.
When the sheriff was asked whether either of the lieutenants-–Thompson or Leavins—reported to him, he denied that they did. “There are no direct reports to me outside the chain of command,” answered Baca.
“There are no institutional problems with regard to correcting itself,” Baca said. “Fourteen or fifteen people under indictment is not an institutional number.”
NOTE: I’LL BE ON WHICH WAY LA? WITH WARREN OLNEY TONIGHT AT 7 PM, ON KCRW, 89.9 FM
You can tune in and listen live here or on your radio at 89.9 FM. Here’s a link to the podcast of the show.
Where do we even begin.
#1: CORRECTION: A better link: http://www.whenlawmenlie.com
I think I’m getting booked next?
I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for executive indictments.
This would not be the first Federal Investigation that was terminated when the investigator’s bosses learned LASD executives at the highest levels were directly involved in the action.
Celeste I couldn’t agree with you more….Time to reel in the BIG FISH! If that doesn’t happen. The Feds have dropped the ball!!!!!
My investigation with agent 99 has uncovered one major fact. Cigar club coins are 75% off. Check on ebay
Nobody is going to touch Lee Baca. This is fun for him. It was so boring in 2010 when not a single person out of 10 million in L.A. County filed to face Baca on the ballot. This announcement comes at the perfect time – it will circulate Baca’s name in the newspapers while crowding out attempts at generating name recognition by his challengers.
By election day, the narrative will be the story of a department cleansed and on the rebound.
How did Tanaka slip his frail, pencil neck out of this noose??
This is just one chapter in this book. Right now, those in custody are scrambling to make a deal. Tanaka’s made men, his goodfellas, are gonna sing like an opera of canaries. Anyone who ever worked DB knows the drill. Do you think Leavins and Thompson are gonna take a 10 year hit? I think not. Tanaka is shitting bowling balls right now and Baca, he promoting Education Based Incarceration. Further to follow.
Everybody see all those happy faces behind Baca during his press conference. They all see the writing on the walls and know their time is coming soon!
Prophet Mo’ Teff, you must be analyzing politics on another planet. Baca is toast, as is his entire administration. Block was in far better shape than Baca and could only manage 36% of the vote in the primary. Care to guess what Baca’s vote will be in this primary?
Hint: Baca’s name being circulates is not because he’s doing such a wiz-bang job…
They will toss Tanaka under the bus. It’s time for that piece of crap to go to jail. He has screwed with many good cops.
Too bad so many standing behind the Sheriff are waiting to see if he or Tanaka gets indicted. I agree singing is better than years at Club Fed so I believe Tanaka will fall. Then hopefully all those coin carrying friends of Mr. T will retire. Olmsted has already made a statement but has anyone seen or heard from Tanaka?
By the way, a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look at Tanaka’s website, and guess who is standing tall behind Tall Paul at his press conference?
None other than indicted suspect Greg Thompson on federal charges of obstruction of justice.
It’s all the stuff of a true Banana Republic.
To spin a Ghandi-ism: Law Enforcement in Los Angeles? One should be in favor of it!
Sussie Ayala was the female Deputy the 3000 boys hit in the chin during Christmas party disaster. She is also a supporter of Tanaka. Don’t look for Paul to save you Ayala
Bryan Brunsting is deputy that allegedly told academy honor recruit Joshua Sather to attack and beat up a mentally ill inmate.
Mickey Manzo is the deputy who sent out the email about the black panthers to the two black deputies.
The personnel jackets probable show those charged have not been the most stellar employees over the course of their careers. I know one individual charged had problems in background, but like others was sent on to be hired. This is a sad day for LASD. In reality many of those indicted should have been cut loose from the dept. a longtime ago. Leroy too bad you let a molehill turn into a mountain of trouble, now the Feds have arrived to clean house.
Tanaka, now is the time you step up like a BIG BOY…Be a man and do the right thing….These people were only following your orders…So sad to see them go down behind you…Sad thing is, they will probably still follow behind you as you try to blame the Sheriff and take zero responsibility… Tanaka you are no good for this or any other department, do you notice how few people even post now that you are gone. you never had the support…we are still cleaning up after you, but we have moved so far forward now that the Sheriff has become engaged in the day to day operations…
I NEVER forgot what was told to us by a superior many years ago while in Basic Training in the United States Military. You cannot hide behind.. “I was just following orders”. Especially if you knew it was criminal in nature. This was after my superior returned from deployment in the Persian Gulf.
Shame those SUPERVISORS didn’t have the guts to say no and led others to the slaughter. I am just wondering…was it worth it in the end??? So very tragic.
Tough day today but we are beginning down the right path.
You folks saw Capt. Gooden standing behind Baca at the new conference. This is the same person Baca placed to lead IAB for a short time. Missing evidence…..oh well, you figure that out.
An FBI agent lets a cellphone into jail, to a jailhouse snitch with a long sentence for bank robbery, compromising the safety of the whole jail, and they indict a couple of ICIB Sgts. that dare to question the almighty FBI about this stupid plan? …And the other deputies that carried out the orders of higher-ups??……The I/O on this case must be the same lame brain that came up with “Fast and Furious” or the “NSA Cellphone” operations plan……THIS IS IT?? Baca and Tanaka skate???? Really?? THAT IS TYPICAL WEAK fed crap…..I doubt many of these guys will even be convicted, especially in the informant movement/protection operation……..
Did you notice the new group of clowns standing behind Moonbeam at his news conference. The kind of folks that savor the opportunity to stab their fellow deputy in the back for the next promotion…..A few need to get refunds on their Tanaka for mayor and sheriff donations now that the wind has shifted in Moonbeam’s direction…….the back bends and twists Hellmold must perform has gotta impress the double agent’s double agent.
Those of us that worked under these people in Region 3 know that REAL police work was not encouraged and Dept policy only applied to us low life line swine.
If you want REAL change, throw out the whole bunch and get a fresh start with Olmsted…..I’m not a fan of some of his supporters but at least he is not standing next to MAXINE WATERS for GOD’S sake like Pauly…..there are solid people that stand behind Olmsted who are taking a low profile for the time being…..As the songs goes……..
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you
Boy, this blog is really quiet compared to other topics. Were the majority of those who usually make comments hooked in the indictment excitement today???
#22 – Cracker Jack – Times 1,000 on your comment! Thanks!
The sheriff’s argument that the indictments of “14-15” [sic] deputies for jail violence is not representative of an institutional problem is incredibly bizarre. That’s a massive number of officers to be indicted at one time at any agency, particularly given how seldom law enforcement officers are indicted for anything. And these guys were indicted for civil rights violations and corruption, which, as Celeste indicated, wasn’t anything they were doing for themselves. This isn’t even really the abuse we’re talking about here; this is the cover up! Far fewer people indicted at a federal agency (say, the Nixon White House) is far more and unarguably scandalous. His refusal to address what he knew and when he knew it is extremely telling. So hilarious he’s trying to argue the department’s being completely supportive of an investigation it was just INDICTED for obstructing. But, again, same approach he takes with every losing position: he opposed the CCJV before he endorsed it, he opposed its findings before he endorsed them, he opposed the IG before he endorsed it…
I guess the sheriff had to say something. But it’s disappointingly unsurprising he went with the same basic hydra, “There’s no problem here / if there is a problem, I didn’t know / I already fixed/am currently fixing the problem” argument he’s trotted out for every other of the weekly embarrassments.
Honestly, can ANYONE make any argument whatsoever for any reason Lee Baca should be re-elected to any office of honor, trust or profit in this state?
What Do You Say When You Get Home?
Eighteen (18) families have been torn apart and will never recover. What would you say to Grandparents, Moms and Dads, Uncles, Aunts but especially the kids who suffer more when they try to understand why their parents risked God, Country, Family, Career for a silly tattoo on their leg? How can anyone now support or defend these people with the titles of Sheriff or Undersheriff?
I can’t even imagine what will happen at schools all around the county today when children are fighting to defend their parents. The fear and anxiety the kids will face just so mom and dad could follow Tanaka or Baca.
Recall when Baca said in a TV interview “Man up?” Well, Mr. Baca according to your handpicked Undersheriff Tanaka you ordered all these crimes. Why doesn’t Lee Baca “man up” and come forward and take responsibility for his action? What happened to “right wrongs” Mr. Baca?
Mr. Tanaka you said that your parents did not raise you to be honest and forthright. Some how telling the truth was an act of informing and gang members don’t inform. But, stop blaming your mom and dad. Did your folks ever tell you that you NEVER let others suffer punishment for things you did? I guess not!
For all those that support Baca or Tanaka ask yourself a question: If Baca and Tanaka did the right thing and came forward and confessed the deputies were following their orders would there be any prosecution of the eighteen (18) deputies? Of course not!
Lastly, remember when the Feds went after the guys at Arco-Narco? The Feds didn’t have much of a case until the ring leader, Bob Sobel, stepped up and made a deal to sell out the others. Well, Baca and Tanaka fans guess who sold you out?
I’m really curious how the Deputy with the firearm charge came to the attention of the Feds.
#27- Google the name and you’ll find they hit his house earlier this year. I suspect they added it to the announcement because their massive investigation really came up with nothing new. This it it folks…the FBI smiles in pictures but there isn’t a single policeman in their ranks. Cheap suits and zero investigative work.
Notice in the photo above Baca’s Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald and Tanaka’s Undersheriff Dave Betkey? My guess is many in that larger photo are worried about their future.
Anyone know what Captain was in charge at IAB during “Operation Pandora’s Box” I would imagine the Captain must have given approval for the operation to proceed with ICIB personnel.
When do you think the media will find out that Deputy James Sexton is Chief Sexton’s son? Yes, the Sheriff from Alabama that Baca hired to run the Homeland Security Division. Maybe the FBI should know about that one!
Baca’s leadership has brought the LASD to this. He deserves to be vilified for his hands-off management and repeated use of ignorance as his defense for not taking action against deputy misconduct. The conspiracy charges included in these indictments are a sign the department’s culture values loyalty to the department ahead of obeying the law. When deputies feel they can commit civil rights violations as retribution for being disrespected, that is not a decay but rather the complete absence of professionalism. The scary thought is that the professional failings of the LASD have become so ingrained in how it works that even if Baca is replaced, there are enough Baca acolytes in the ranks to effectively obstruct change for years to come.
#31, don’t get too brave. They already know because he is the same guy that blew the whistle 9 months ago and filed a civil suit. Instead of asking a question you already know the answer to, devote your efforts to smutting him up properly.
Charging Charlie, I wouldn’t sweat that. There will be a lengthy accountability process, along with some truth and reconciliation.
Those that broke the law need to be prosecuted, period. Those that violated department rules and regulations to enable corruption and retaliation will have to make amends with all of their victims. That is a lot of people, so they may want to get a head start on that project..
To those of you who have already accepted this website view as to guilt or innocence, you deserve a cupie doll. One of the cheap ones. The rule is, if you don’t have a case, you take it to the Grand Jury. Especially if you are a Fed. Most Feds wouldn’t recognize a crook if he slapped them up side the head. U.S. Attorney Birotte is a political appointee who can recognize a criminal only when he is seated at the defendant table. In reality, most of them are innocent if it’s a federal trial. His boss, Eric Holder is the greatest liar and racist to ever hold that seat. Baca’s leadership does nothing to determine Deputy conduct. That is determined by the Deputy. You either do it the right way or the wrong. Sergeants and Lieutenants determine if Deputies are doing their job and are obligated to correct and training Deputies. The failure of this department is the promotion process. Half or more who make do not have the skills to be there. The recruiting process deserves the same comment. Merit should be the prevalent reason for promotion. And gender and race should not be the prevalent reason for recruitment and/or promotion. It diminishes the results. Regardless, at least half joining or promoting are good to go. You have to pick the good side and voice your opposition to the bad side and bad conduct. If you don’t, you were just part of the problem. Stop trying to sluff it off on management. Baca and Tanaka don’t run the department.
Yesterday was a very sad day, but is the first step on a long road to recovery. We are at Baker trying to get to Vegas. Some good people went down yesterday, but they got caught up in the Tanaka power and the no one can touch us attitude. Today, all employed were notified that they are now suspended without pay. These indictments will be devastating for the families of these men and women right before Christmas.
The big question is, what is next. We all hope that the responsible executive is also held accountable. This intimidation tactic utilized has Tanaka’s DNA all over it. Leavins was Tanaka’s aide as a Sergeant (first ever) and then made Lt and went straight to ICIB. Leavins was a direct report to Tanaka and constantly went around his own Captain. With three people from ICIB indicted, the big question is What did or didn’t Captain Carey know.
Now we come to the Sheriff and what did he know. Tanaka has already publicly stated Baca ordered him to hide the inmate. Based on that, Tanaka has admitted “guilt”. If if the Sheriff wasn’t involved, which is highly unlikely, he has the blood of 14 careers on his hands. He has been warned for years of Tanaka’s antics and has failed to supervise Tanaka and continued to promote him to the top which essentially validated Tanaka’s mis-conduct. I find it interesting that Tanaka has been quick to offer a quote in recent negative stories but was silent yesterday.
I keep hearing credible quotes from some highly respected people and the common thread is failure of leadership. Baca should resign immediately. it would take a page or two to list all of his failures and scandals. He is like Humphrey Bogart from the Caine Mutiny looking for the missing strawberries. Yesterday was one of the darkest in our history, and shortly after the Press Conference Baca is attending a fundraiser for himself at 1500.00 a plate. What was even more insulting is that it was hosted by Mark Geragos, a defense attorney who has questionable clients including Scott Petersen who killed his wife on Christmas day and claims the killer is still out there. He also constantly sues Law Enforcement. So the next time County Counsel has a suit where he is the plaintiffs attorney, will this cloud Baca’s decision making to settle or go to trial. This is soooo Leroy to put himself in these conflicts that will allow another scandal down the road.
A true LEADER would have never attended this. he would have sent a note or emissary to extend his regrets but he must stay at HQ to handle the current crisis at hand. Tanaka was dead bang on one allegation, Baca loves to be the politician.
Over the last 18 months alot of comments on here referred to when everyone is indicted by the Feds, Tanaka will throw you under the bus. Out of the ones indicted, how many have heard from Tanaka since being released. Tanaka will swear and state, “I was not in the chain of Command” when it cones to all of these allegations.
Baca needs to be indicted and convicted or a plea to where he resigns so we can move forward. Someone once said on here that everyone on the 4th floor has a gun pointed at each other and just waiting for the first shot. Well, yesterday was the shot that was heard around the County
I remember Tanaka saying the Sheriff was only briefed on what he needed to know. Lt. Thompson was a cigar crownie of Tanaka’s. I wonder if Tanaka posted bail for all his cigar club buddies. Word has it he is already distancing himself from all involved. [EDIT] Greed and carma have a strange way of playing out when you drink the Tanaka cool aid.
#30 — hmmmm, the IAB Captain would have been either Mannis or whomever the A/ was BEFORE Gooden. I believe the ICIB Captain was Roller. Mannis & Roller – quite the combo, dontcha think?
BTW – Nancy Drew — whatcha got on Betkey???
ALSO,I watched the media circus with many of the Department execs “standing behind” Baca. I was embarrassed by his reading of his statement — especially the Core Values that he has pushed down so many throats — he couldn’t even remember the words. I remember years ago when he ran into a sergeant (Giunta) at the STARS Academy locker room and asked him to recite the Core Values to him. Giunta told him he didn’t know them, but no one had to tell him about values because his parents instilled “CORE” values in him long before the LASD was part of his life. The Sheriff lost it & totally went off on him, telling him he “had better” memorize them, & proceeded to give him a card with the words emblazoned on it.
Seems to me the Sheriff has forgotten the CORE or OUR (LASD) values.
End is near, it was me that made that statement some months back, yes this is the first shot. In reality though, have you ever seen a criminal attorney that hasn’t had questionable people as clients ? Fact of the matter is there is no accountability from anyone on this department much less the brass. When I saw Baca reading the core values I almost choked on a Pepsi. These fools don’t know or care what the core values are. Its amazing he didn’t know them by heart, shameful. The only thing I agreed and like about the AUSDA is that he made it clear that these are only allegations and they still have to prove their case in court, therefore these people should be considered innocent until proven guilty. The mudslinging continues while people are fighting for their lives, believe me I’ve been there. Lets not pass judgment on anyone (not that you did) and see where this investigation leads the feds. I think we all know where it SHOULD lead to!
#38….In about 2010 Capt. Gooden was placed at IAB. This was done only after the Mayor of Compton gave him the boot to leave Compton. Then A/Capt. of Compton Station he sent an email to his deputy staff, where he was talking shit about the mayor and compton board. That email was leaked to the mayor and the rest was history.
Someone is going to roll. This is ugly.
I have personal knowledge of the corruption and covers up within the executive ranks, It not only has been pervasive, it has corroded the ranks. One of you posters mentioned the Feds ” picking the lowest lying fruit first. Regardless of what some of you may think about the poor quality and politically drive investigations by the Feds,, the reality is : the evidence is there. The damage to the reputation of the Department is now known nation wide if not beyond. So, this innocent until proven guilty is a load of shit. And if you believe that the Federal process of Investigation ,.. review by the U.S. atty …..presentation to the Federal Grand Jury … and issuance of a True Bill is all bull shit……..then I suggest you go back to night school; and listen this time.
It really bothers me and I am retired . I feel for the good deputy sheriff’s of all ranks who are going to have to put up with backlash and rebuild. I won’t be easy, but I believe it can be done.
I doubt many current members are old enough to have been involved with the mud-slinging name-calling , battering by assholes during the Vietnam era. It was ugly, we handled it and the Department survived.
SUPPORT THE REMAINING GOOD FOLKS AND PRAY FO THE BEST !
Baca beware…..in the above photograph standing to his right is Commander Maxwell, another back stabbing executive who will not hesitate to stab Baca in the back. He has the same character flaws as Tanaka. Another small man with a big ego. Look up his history a see how much he has cost the county in lawsuits.
Today, I attended a funeral for a fellow Deputy, one I had worked with 3 years downtown. He was not only my partner, but one I could put my complete trust in, a friend, a cops cop, family man, and Christian gentleman.
He, like myself, were both retired, and have had many discussions regarding the “state” of the Department. I must concur with “proud ole retiree”….”SUPPORT THE REMAINING GOOD FOLKS AND PRAY FOR THE BEST !” I know my friend would feel the same!
# 45 Sometimes the view from bleachers is a lot clearer than on the field of “play”.
A very good retired friend of mine and also ruminate over the state of the Dept. Truly it’s sad, but our memories of the GREAT LASD will remain in tact. I too burying a friend a week ago, We as others will take our memories to the grave. The difference is ; ours are good memoires. It will be up to the surviving good ones to build their own memories. I could care less about the trash who will take their scandals to the grave. I know this sounds harsh, but the tarnish they have brought and people they have hurt deserve nothing less. if I said what i really feel, I am sure I would be edited of. Be well, you good deputies.
Let the record reflect…
Thank you Mr. T.
I was gonna comment, but then I read comment #35 and that pretty much sums up my opinion on the matter.
Sad to know the retirees (such as #45 and #46) left us a Department that was well respected and admired, only for the next generation to come up and destroy it. And then here comes MY generation (5 years or less on) and now we’re left with ruins.
# 48. Know this, We the retirees joined a highly respected Department, but its maintenance was not handed to us. Believe me, we had our share of bumps, but we worked through them, some times very painfully. If you are to rebuild, what makes you think it will be easy or done for you. There are no free lunches. Everyone of “your generation will have to man up and do the right thing. Do not let tyranny in the command staff intimidate you into ignoring ethics and knuckling under for promotions or executive favors,
Another view from the bleachers