Pandora's Box

Former LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Sexton to Be Released From Prison in Surprise Decision

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon


In a surprise decision at a Thursday afternoon hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson ruled that former LA County sheriff’s deputy, James Sexton, who was sentenced in December 2014 to 18 months in a federal prison after being convicted of obstruction of justice, could be released into six months of home detention followed by another six months of formal probation.

Sexton’s wife was permitted to pick up Sexton, now 32, from the U.S. Marshall’s office early Thursday evening and bring him home.

At 25, Sexton was the youngest and lowest on the departmental ladder of the eight people convicted of obstruction of justice (plus a ninth who accepted a plea deal and his yet to be sentenced) for attempts in August and September of 2011 to block a federal investigation into corruption and brutality in LA County’s jail system with actions that included hiding a federal informant from his FBI handlers, falsely threatening an FBI agent with arrest, and tampering with potential federal witnesses.

Sexton surrendered to begin his original 18 month sentence on August 31, 2016. He was the first of the eight who have been sentenced for obstruction of justice convictions to surrender.

Sexton is expected to be a crucial witness for the prosecution in the February retrial of former four-term LA County sheriff Lee Baca.

Photo of Sexton and wife taken in 2014 after sentencing.


  • He was one of the most arrogant custody deputies, I’ve ever met. Moved to that OSJ job only because of his dads connections to the Sheriff. Just like his Chief dad, didn’t really know or understand his place. Hope in his short sentence, he learned his lesson in humility, more listening and learning and less trying to push weight around that you don’t have.

  • I admire him for turning himself in and getting his time over with. He needs to work on projects enjoy his wife, family and friends. It is now behind him and life goes on. He is a very smart guy and I wish him the best in all his ventures. He should have never been charged or convicted but it is time to put it in the past. Welcome home!!!

  • I’m quite sure they’ve all learned a lesson in humility. Getting convicted of a felony and losing his career was enough of a lesson. Glad the kid is going home. A prison sentence for this kid because the feds had to show Baca and Tanaka who the big dog is isn’t justice, it’s overkill. The kid payed a steep price for whatever arrogance he may of had and the crime he committed. The feds and judges allow criminals who belong in prison FAR more than this kid to walk out of courtrooms with no prison time every day. Enough is enough where this kid is concerned. He won’t be strutting around any LASD facility like the cock of the walk. Call it good.

  • Far Side, wish you could have witnessed yesterday. You would have seen enough of his vulnerability to last your jaded heart a life time. I guess the fact HBO, his wife, and an abundance of friends were there means he was neither successful or humbled at any point in this.

    God Speed and Roll Tide Mr. Sexton.

    To his most “cherished assets” in the courtroom aka his friends and family: you guys and gals are the real Hereos in this story. Good on you all.

  • I have followed Pandora’s Box as closely as possible while working and after my retirement a few months ago. I do not know Sexton, but I understand he went to the FBI with a coworker during the infancy stages of this stupid operation. Based on reporting, it appears Sexton cooperated with the FBI as evidenced by his repeated meetings, updates and GJ appearances. The only thing I am able to gather is he refused to wire-up to record his father and Baca. On that note, does anyone know factually, what information was the FBI seeking? What were they investigating or suspicious of between those two? With that said, what unreasonable expectation did the FBI have that they would instruct young Sexton to wear a wire against his father? That is beyond reasonable, it is incredulous to attempt to force that move.

    Celeste, perhaps only you can answer this question. What specifically made the AUSA decide to file and prosecute young Sexton? If the FBI and AUSA played hardball with Sexton over the wire and ONLY the wire issue, and, if so, “used him,” and milked him and then screwed him by filing charges, that truly is beyond the pale. When I worked with informants or cooperating citizens, my word was my bond. If they held of their part of the bargain, I did mine, I delivered. The flavor in which is being portrayed is Brandon Fox and Company simply used and abused young Sexton and then screwed him. If Sexton was playing both ends, being a double agent and got caught, shame on him and he deserved what he got. Regardless, I would like to see an in-depth report of how Sexton arrived at this point in time, that really is potentially, a story of blind prosecutorial misconduct. As I understand it, Fox, himself, filed the motion to have Sexton released. What prompted that, a guilty conscience? IF, IF, that was the case, that should be exposed because it is wrong.

    Does anyone know when Tanaka actually turns himself in? I certainly hope the local media will be there to greet him. That man is a complete disgrace yet as all psychopaths, he has not one shred of remorse for the unethical conduct he perpetuated into the culture of LASD. Tanaka is the epitome of corruption, books and case studies will record his epic wave of corruption and misconduct. And to all of those who carried his water, kissed his ass, did his dirty work, you are losers and you know it. You were used, and you used, Karma has a date with each of you. As for Baca, I hope his destiny is played out to the public in a drip, drip, drip fashion. It is time for his lunacy, his sheer incompetence, his complete failure as Sheriff is played out, in-depth, for all to see. I want the public and all the cheesy politicians to see, read, hear, what an incompetent and disgraced Sheriff Baca looks like, up close and personal. While all gave him soft claps and back slaps along with accolades professing his brilliance, many like me, in unique positions of observation, watched a long, long, slow motion train wreck. Tanaka was the train engineer at full throttle and a stoked boiler filled with coal, Baca was the looney conductor. Baca’s legacy is now that of an out of touch, delusional failure who fell like Humpty Dumpty, despite ALL those who warned him what Tanaka was doing under his nose. Tanaka, well, he is the same punk, insecure bully and corrupt thug he has always been since his days at Century and Lennox stations. His life is about to become a living hell, ask Sexton. I’m sure Mrs. T, will be living life large and will make sure Paul has $40 on his books at all time. As has been said many times, LASD owes Celeste Freeman and WLA an unrepayable debt of gratitude. Your award winning journalism and bulldog tenacity shined a much needed light into the roach infested LASD, while making The Times, fish wrap.

  • @CIA Spade: What a weak case and a waste of the taxpayers money. The only winners were the Attorneys who lined their pockets.

  • @calling it a spade, you said it perfectly and the truth is the Feds were mad because he wouldn’t wear a wire. They screwed him over and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands dollars. ALADS set him up and his appointed attorney no showed for his GJ testimony. He testified because the FEDS and prosecution team assured him he wasn’t the target. He met with them almost 40 times and they turned on him. I think Tanaka turns himself in on Tuesday along with the rest that were convicted.

  • far side – You’re completely wrong. Sexton was chosen by OSJ for a rotational position based upon his work at IRC, and chosen for the permanent position based upon his work at OSJ. This was long before his dad entered the picture and was not a Baca-influenced decision.

  • Most of the players in the Pandora Box Scandal have had their hat handed to them, up front and behind the scenes. Let’s now focus on getting deputies better legal representation by phasing out Alads counsel Richard “Dick” Shinee. Since ALADS Board of Directors is on a “United Front” supposedly, then get down to business and live up to your promises

  • ALADS needs an attorney who represents the union as a whole, and is not involved in representing members. One cannot do the other without a massive conflict of interest.

  • So now disgraced Federal prisoner, Paul “The Screamer” Tanaka (ya gotta have a tough guy moniker when you’re in the Big House) sits in the joint. How anticlimactic, but how sweet, how very sweet to see him where he belongs. Just a few years ago, he was strutting his stuff around without a care in the world, convinced he just had to wait a few more months and he would be the next sheriff. Strutting around, screaming uncontrollably, displaying fits of rage, temper tantrums, watching people scrabbling for cover. His ass was kissed like folks kissing the Pope’s ring. All the good people he screwed for show, for sport. An organization he single handily destroyed. And now, he sits in prison.

    I noticed a little blip on the LASD Past Facebook site that someone posted regarding Little Paul’s new assignment. 80% of the comments were basically saying what most feel, “screw you Paul, you earned it.” But a handful of postings were talking about how sad they felt for Paul, what a sad day it is for LASD, what a good guy Paul really is, just misunderstood. Most of those shameless characters were water boys for Paul, doing his bidding, turning their heads as good people were destroyed. Someone talked about feeling sorry for his wife, now that’s a joke. Her hands are just as bloody, have no doubt about it, she was in the thick of it all for her own self serving purposes. What a thoughtful group of losers. May the five years go by, very, very, slowly. Give you a little time to think. Think I’ll go start up the snow blower and have a good laugh thinking of Paul. He’s a screamer alright.

  • It warms my heart knowing Tall Paul is in the pookie, where he belongs. I am but one of hundreds of department personnel who’s career he destroyed, but not entirely. I get to walk away with my dignity, health, and reputation intact.

    Those who still wear stars and bars earned the dirty way, karma will be paying you a visit sooner or later. That is the best part, you will age knowing it’s coming.

    On a brighter note, the future looks promising….

  • LATBG, as always, you state the truth with eloquent verbiage that calls out the vile of LASD. They may have fooled “Old Fresh Eyes,” but they have not fooled the masses who know who they are and what they are. You and I have suffered, but in reality, we have prevailed. As we speak, I am sipping a fine Cabernet Sauvignon while the snow falls outside , again. While Fderal Inmate Paul Tanaka, gets a sip of pruno, if he is lucky.

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