The Trial of Lee Baca

Judge Rules That Lee Baca Will Now Have Two Trials. (No. We Are Not Kidding.)

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon


On Friday, government prosecutors filed a motion asking that former Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca be tried in two separate trials, with two separate juries.

We have since learned that U.S. District Court judge Percy Anderson has granted the government’s motion. The jury selection for trial number one will begin on Monday, December 5.

Here’s the deal.

Baca, if you’ll remember has been indicted on three charges. In counts one and two Baca is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, for his alleged actions in the summer and early fall of 2011, after he learned that the FBI was engaging in an undercover investigation of corruption and brutality by deputies in the county’s jails.

In addition to the two obstruction charges, in a third count Baca is charged with making false statements to federal officials during a four and a half hour interview that took place in April 2013, when he was asked about his part in the alleged obstruction of feds’ investigation.

As we reported earlier, there has been a struggle between the prosecution and the defense about whether or not the defense’s Alzheimer’s expert, UCLA psychiatrist Dr. James Spar, would be allowed to testify about Baca’s diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer’s disease, and what it suggests about his cognitive ability in the years prior to his diagnosis when he committed his alleged crimes.

Baca was first officially diagnosed as having some kind of cognitive impairments, on May 13, 2014. According to the defense, Dr. Spar would testify to the probability that, at the time he was interviewed by the feds, Mr. Baca was in the “pre-clinical stage” of Alzheimers, which Spar contends “can occur 10 years or more before the onset of clinical symptoms.” Or alternately, Baca, according to Spar, could have been in the Mild Clinical Impairment” or MCI stage of Alzheimer’s in the spring of 2013.

Thus, if Dr.Spar is allowed to testify, he will reportedly suggest it is likely that Baca’s answers to the government’s questions in April 2013 were compromised by Baca’s not yet diagnosed early stage Alzheimers..

Defense attorney Nathan Hochman noted in a hearing on the matter late last month that Mr Baca answered “I don’t recall” 25 times” during the crucial 2013 interview with the government.

In response, lead prosecutor Brandon Fox pointed out that “I don’t recall,” is a common response by witnesses in the hot seat, and called Spar’s contention that Baca could have been suffering from some kind of cognitive impairment for up to ten years prior to his actual diagnosis “junk science.” Spar was “cherry picking” facts that were beneficial to the defense, Fox said.

At a pre-trial hearing that took place last Friday it appeared that Anderson would allow Dr. Spar to testify, but with some limitations. (As of this writing, Anderson had yet to formally rule on Spar.)

Among the reasons the government cited in its motion to severe the charges into two trials is the concern that, in a single trial, the jury may become “confused” by the contention that the former sheriff could have been cognitively impaired during the period in 2011, in which the events occurred that led to the obstruction charges against the sheriff, even though those charges do not hinge on Baca’s memory.

Spar’s proposed testimony, the government argued, “is based on insufficient facts and data. Dr. Spar’s proposed testimony would result in juror confusion and unfair prejudice to the government.”

With all this in mind, it was proper, the prosecution argued, that the first two charges be “severed” from the third, and tried separately “to avoid prejudicial spillover.”

The former sheriff’s defense team objected and wrote to the judge that,”having two trials will exact a huge financial toll on Mr. Baca who is funding his defense himself.”

But two trials it is.

There’s more. So stay tuned.

Note: The photo of former Los Angeles County Sheriff was taken earlier this year after his proposed plea deal with the government fell apart


  • So, Looney Leroy goes to jail after a TWO Looney Trials. How appropriate.

    From “Sheriff of the Year” to “Lopoc Prisoner of the Year” in just 4 years. Only in America!

  • Looks like there will be two circuses in town. Ringling Bro’s will be getting some competition from Barnum and Bailey.
    How about the defense crying that two trials will exact a huge financial toll on Baca, because he’s funding his defense himself? You can’t make that shit up! That’s hilarious! Who else is supposed to be funding his defense?
    Hey Mr. Hiochman, consider this. Since your client spent 14 years globetrotting all over the world on the taxpayers dime, while at the same time receiving an enormous salary as the LA County Sheriff (that he didn’t earn because he was too busy globetrotting), don’t you think it’s poetic justice should he end up broke? You’re asking for sympathy for your client because of the expense? I’ll tell you where you’ll find sympathy. Between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.
    Baca lived the high life for years and years. Now because of his bad choices, maybe justice will prevail and he can live out the remainder of his life in a very humble lifestyle.

  • My heart pumps zero hurt for Leroy or Paul. After the financial toll they and their cronies inflicted on the lives and families of so many tax paying citizens and department members, they get what they deserve. Three hots and a cot.

  • Hochman and the rest of Baca’s defense team have to stop letting the other side have all the fun.

    Testimony about all of the stages of Alzheimer’s disease is B-O-R-I-N-G..

    Let one team run up the score and the audience loses interest.

    The prosecutor announced a witness roster holding a cavalcade of B-list and C-list players.

    Baca’s defense team needs to start thinking offense.

    And they need to provide some real entertainment value for The People.
    They need a heavy hitter under oath in the hot box.

    Watch how fast/furiously the season tickets sell-out at the federal courthouse in dtla when very reluctant witness former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s name goes up on the top of the marquee.

    The fbi field agents assigned to this case probably believe they were part a of sincere investigation.

    But they were actually smurfs for ErIC Holder’s circus act along with his recycled undercover clown A.tony brown.

    A faux investigation into civil rights violations at LACJ thrown together and rolled out so Holder could go on record with a plausible alibi before it was too late.

    Private plaintiff’s attorney’s had already skipped the paved highway and chose a steep and tricky road when they fought to include Sheriff Lee Baca, the private individual, as a defendant whose personal assets were in jeopardy of jury award to civil plaintiff in compensation for injuries suffered at the hands of jail deputies.

    The attorneys and their plaintiff wanted more than money.
    They were trying to kickstart the job that HoldeR, as A.G., was pledged to do. but hadn’t – clean up the mess with illegal beatings at LACJ.

    In the fall of 2011, the initial civil jury award came down against Lee Baca’s pocketbook for his negligent lack of effort in his duty to correct the unlawful jail practices which he had been notified about.

    If Baca does have Alzheimers than that’s his excuse to get away with going over and starting to pop the corks on all the bottles of champagne waiting under Decker’s table.

    Even if the court approved a summons for Eric Holder to testify –
    it’s well known that he prefers to stay on the east coast and he’ll take a ‘CONTEMPT OF COURT’ to prove it.

    i want to see Lee Baca throw the long bomb towards the end zone.
    What’s there to lose, anyway?

    Obama will be signing autographs all night in a few weeks.
    Eric Holder can probably use one.
    And Lee Baca could really use one right now, too.

  • I am not a Baca fan by any means but Judge Percy Anderson is the Chief clown in this circus and all his rulings go to the prosecution team. He doesn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t matter if he had the “Dream Team” defending him. He will be found guilty and then file appeals. By the time he goes to prison he won’t remember all the horrors he is living and the government will be paying for his expensive care. So, tell me who are the real winners and losers here?

  • The men and woman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, especially those victimized by his unethical behavior.

  • Baca & Tanaka were only the tip of the iceberg, nothing has changed. Their minions are still embedded within the department while feigning stupidity.

  • Anyone know who all these B and C players are??? Just curious… don’t remember seeing their names before in other reporting s.

    5 Brian Yanagi
    8 Michele Miller
    9 Robert Bayes
    10 Jason Dalton
    12 David Dahle
    13 Linda Farrar
    14 Yolanda Baines
    15 Tara Adams
    16 Gus Academia
    19 William David Curson
    20 John Powell
    22 John Torribio
    24 Leah Tanner
    25 Pete Angelini
    27 Steve Martinez

  • How is it that you are referring to Leah Tanner as a “B and C Player”?

    She is very much at the heart of this case as the lead FBI agent in the Anthony Brown caper and the agent who received the “Guido” visit at her home by Sergeants Craig and Long.

  • we can assume that 27. steve martinez is the fbi agent-in-charge los angeles field office Steve Martinez who Sheriff Baca called after learning that his jail deputies had discovered a cell phone concealed by an inmate.
    Upon examining the phone’s call history log, deputies noted a record of multiple calls to a telephone number belonging to the fbi L.A. field office informed.
    Sheriff Baca asked fbi agent-in-charge Martinez if the man with the smuggled cell phone, inmate amthony brown, was an informant working for them. Martinez confirmed.
    so sheriff baca knew A. Brown was fbi informant, the fbi knew that Baca knew it, and Baca knew that the fbi knew that he knew it.

  • Missed that one Rick D. It was Leah Marx before…

    Other than that one, I still don’t remember any of these others names being tossed around before….just wondering the who, what, where, etc. of them….

  • Pete Angelini was a FBI agent working organized crime in Orange County during the time of the Anthony Brown incident. I would assume that he will provide testimony concerning inmate Brown.

    David Dahle is also an FBI agent who testified previously about the cell phone.

    John Torribio is a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. He testified at Paul Tanaka’s trial. He declined to issue a search warrant for FBI records that was sought by Sgt. Craig.

    William Curson may be a misspelling of William Courson. He was a deputy sheriff who provided testimony concerning uses-of-force in the jail in several of the earlier trials.

    Ditto for Tara Adams.

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