The Retrial of Lee Baca The Trial of Lee Baca

Judge Denies Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca Bail While Awaiting Appeal (But It’s Still Unlikely Baca Will Go to Prison on July 25)

Former LA County sheriff Lee Baca with defense attorney Nathan Hochman after Baca's May 2017, sentencing.
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson issued an order denying former LA County sheriff Lee Baca’s motion for bond pending the appeal that Baca’s attorneys have filed with the 9th Circuit.

“[T]he Court concludes that Defendant has failed to raise a substantial question likely to result in reversal or new trial,” Anderson wrote in the nine-page order.

Baca is currently scheduled to self-surrender on July 25 to begin serving his three-year sentence in federal prison.

Yet, it is unlikely that the former sheriff will actually be required to surrender on that date. Baca’s lead attorney, Nathan Hochman, told WitnessLA that he will file a motion on Monday appealing Anderson’s denial, and asking the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant Baca bail while the court considers his appeal.

According to Hochman, his client should get a stay on the self-surrender once motion is filed on Monday with the 9th.

The stay, however, would not guarantee that the 9th circuit will grant bond.

The appeals court did grant bond to former LA County deputy James Sexton while he waited to appeal. The court similarly granted bond to the other six who, like Sexton, were convicted of obstruction of justice charges, although all seven ultimately lost their appeals.

Under the same circumstances, former undersheriff Paul Tanaka was not granted bond. (His appeal has yet to be ruled on by the 9th.)

Judge Anderson’s lengthy ruling on the bail issue explained in detail why he believed Baca was unlikely to get a reversal or a new trial, and thus why granting of bond would only be for “the purpose of delay.”

According to Anderson, in Baca’s “attempt to meet his burden to raise a substantial question likely to result in reversal or a new trial,” the former sheriff presented six questions that are, in brief, the following:

(1) whether the Court erred in excluding evidence that Defendant cooperated with an unrelated investigation conducted by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division;

(2) whether the Court erred in excluding evidence that Defendant established, supported, and worked with the Office of Independent Review (“OIR”);

(3) whether the Court erred in excluding evidence relating to Defendant’s responses to excessive force within Los Angeles County’s jails;

(4) whether the Court erred in excluding portions of Defendant’s interview with federal investigators conducted in April 2013 that Defendant sought to introduce;

(5) whether the Court erred in precluding evidence of Defendant’s Alzheimer’s disease; and

(6) whether the Government presented sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction on the false statements count.

Then Anderson went on to explain his opinion as to why Baca had “failed to raise a substantial question likely to result in reversal or new trial.”

(You can read the rest of Anderson’s order here: LASD – Baca – ORDER denying bond on appeal

Meanwhile, we have heard no news as to whether Baca’s diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer’s disease has worsened.

“Alzheimer’s disease is not a get out of jail card,” Anderson said shortly before he announced on May 12 of this year that he was sentencing Baca to 36 months in federal prison, with a year of supervised release.

The former sheriff was convicted of lying to federal officials and conspiring to obstruct an FBI investigation into the corruption and brutality that plagued the agency he presided over as Los Angeles County sheriff.

The photo above, by WLA, was taken in May 2017 on the day the former sheriff was sentenced.


  • There is no way that former Sheriff Baca can pay for the damage he has done to the LASD. With the best leadership it will a long time in restoring integrity to the Department. Many of us in 1970 thought that he was in the early stages of of some sort of mental distress, but P.C. prevailed. He needs to serve his full time in jail. The sad part is that he will continue to get his over 300 thousand dollars a year in retirement.

  • Time for the next step: FELONS FORFEIT PENSION BENEFITS –


    Requires both current and future public officials and employees to forfeit certain specified pension and related benefits if they are convicted of a felony in carrying out their official duties, in seeking an elected office or appointment, or in connection with obtaining salary or pension benefits, subject to certain requirements.

    SECTIONS – 7522.72 & 7522.74

  • Hey Lee, come on up here to Colorado and maybe you can hookup with Paul. Now wouldn’t that be hysterical. You both can start leadership courses for your fellow inmates and develop a set of CORE Values for all to follow. Enjoy your vacay Lee. Perhaps you can use your cell time to reflect on how you decimated LASD. Just a thought.

  • If I remember correctly they calculate what they can exclude based on the date of the event in which the person is convicted.

    Either way he is going to be earning a pretty substantial amount of money while he is in federal prison.

  • I’m confused. I remember Baca saying he wasn’t afraid of going to prison. I specifically remember him dazzling those in attendance with one of his absolutely brilliant quips: “If one knows how to suffer properly, one doesn’t suffer at all”.
    How profound. Is that enlightened or what?
    I can’t figure out why he spent beau coup bucks on lawyers in the first place, much less continuing to pay them to work on his appeal.
    Unless of course it’s because he was just talking gobblygook bullshit when confronted with a serious dilemma.
    He was once held in high regard by the political power brokers and the media in LA. He was once the most powerful sheriff in the country. He once had legions of people grovelling for a favor. He once had bedazzled audiences who hung on his every word whenever and wherever he spoke. He was the Sheriff of The Year for gosh sakes! How could the story end like this?
    It’s an old story. The emperor was naked.
    The story of the New Age Zen Master Sheriff is coming to a close. Just another cautionary tale in a long line of them. Just another comedic tragedy. Except anyone who has ever worn the badge of the LASD doesn’t find it funny in the least.
    One thing can be counted on. His fellow inmates won’t be bedazzled by his philosophies, opinions and nonsensical gibberish. They keep it real in prison. The first time Dr. Baca tries to impress his fellow inmates with his make believe superior intellect he’s going to be in for a huge surprise.
    What a tangled web we weave.

  • @ Oh Well. Over the years, I have had so many people ask me, “What is with this guy? Does he really believe his own bullshit?”

    Your analysis is absolutely spot on, one of the best I’ve read. Devoid of emotion, simply stated based on objective observations. And in complete contrast to Tanaka who was only motivated by his insatiable thirst for corrupt power. Baca was all Zen, psychological instability, detachment from reality and corrupt delusion.

    “If one knows how to suffer properly, one doesn’t suffer at all.” That has to be one of the most descriptive, three dimensional views into the mind of one Leroy D. Baca. I think he is going to have an opportunity to test his theory very soon. And all of his past enablers will simply shrug all of this off and say to themselves, “Oh well, sucks to be Lee. But at least I got mine.”

  • is the Lee Baca who professes mastery of painless suffering
    related to the former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca who proclaimed
    great concern for the potential permanent damage which could result if
    a deputy was forced to drink from the poisoned waters of punitive discipline?

  • Spade,
    What they got was rank, meaning money. Or that bitchin spot they always wanted. What they lost was their honor, credibility and reputations.
    LASD functions are different than in the past. Not a lot of former big wigs are showing up. Baca’s enablers know the vast majority of troops know who they are. More importantly, they know what most LASD members think of them. They realize their peers have disdain for them.
    They know that everybody sees them for the whores they are. They might find a little bit of solace with their big retirement checks.
    But they can’t buy back their honor.

  • Oh Well, too bad that value system is still in play under Fresh Eyes. Keep your mouth shut to corruption and you will be rewarded. Just ask anyone sporting bars or stars…

  • I am disappointed in the 9th Circuit – but of course no surprise there. But I am not disappointed in the comments already posted above. ALL very sadly insightful, factual and pungently sardonic in commenting on the end of the sick ordeal that has been the Baca/Stonich/Waldie/Tanaka regime.

    It has been sad to see and experience.

    I just wish the LASD were in better hands.

  • While not a fan, one should never underestimate the enemy or his team. Yes, Baca may be looney tunes but he’s not stupid. He plays the game very well.

  • I never said he was stupid. Not being stupid doesn’t make one brilliant.
    He wasn’t intelligent enough to keep from surrounding himself with enablers who told him that each and every idea he had or opinion he held was brilliant. Consequently, he became vulnerable to being entangled in the web of believing, and trying to prove they were right.
    A truly brilliant man doesn’t find himself entangled in that web, because he knows better than to weave it.
    No, Baca wasn’t stupid. My point was simply that he was FAR from brilliant, like his enablers (The ass kissers, the power brokers and the LA media) claimed he was.

  • I ran into Lee last week, looked like the saddest human I’d ever seen. My friend said “Don’t I know you?” and he replied “No you don’t.” He was by himself, my observation is that his early Alzheimer’s is bullshit. Show me someone 75 that isn’t forgetful. He was shopping for a suit by himself for cryin out loud. What he needs a new suit for I have no idea? His wardrobe is set for the next 3 years! He had on a big floppy hat, perhaps planning to go on the lam? Gimme a break, go to jail already.

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