Ninth Circuit Denies Appeal for 7 LA Sheriff’s Department Members Convicted of Obstruction of Justice

In a ruling handed down on Thursday, August 4, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld convictions for charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice against seven former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The seven had been convicted in two separate trials for their part in a series of actions allegedly designed to disrupt a federal investigation into brutality and corruption inside the LA County jail system. The various actions—which came to be known unofficially as Operation Pandora’s Box—included hiding a jail inmate/federal informant from his FBI handlers, falsely threatening an FBI agent with arrest, and attempting to dissuade possible witnesses to wrongdoing in the jails from talking to the feds.

The ruling comes a few days after Sheriff Lee Baca withdrew from the plea deal with the federal government and decided to go to trial rather than risk a prison sentence in excess of six months. The sentences for the seven former members who got bad news on Thursday, range from 18 months in a federal prison to 48 months, ostensibly for following orders handed down from the top of the organization.

The actual Ninth Circuit opinion, which you can find here—NinthCircuitOpinion—was written by the most veteran of the justices on the panel, Judge Ferdinand Fernandez, and it is an interesting read.

Although there were some compelling points brought up in the July hearing before the three judge panel—issues like the editing of former deputy James Sexton’s grand jury testimony, and the possibly questionable dismissal of a juror by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson in the trial of the other six department members who were part of the appeal (for details see our previous story)—the panel did not really address most of those topics at all in their ruling.

Instead Fernandez laid out an argument that suggested that those disputed issues-–and other points brought up in the appeal, most specifically a series of claims of wrongly presented jury instructions—didn’t really matter, because in the panel’s opinion, the defendants did what they did, and the dispute was mainly about “why they did it.” Ultimately, concluded Fernandez, the two juries [Sexton was tried separately] “accepted the government’s position” on which narrative was the right one.


  • When is the surrender date for these seven? Also when will Tanaka’s appeal be heard? He should be packing his bags for his move to his new home. Maybe Baca should reconsider his decision and get some deal no matter how slight.

  • Finally some closure for the Convicted Criminals. Let them do their time and learn from their experience. Hopefully, they will learn and become better people for it.

  • Not a surprising decision from the very Left leaning activist filled court. However,in light of the conviction of former LASD Assistant Sheriff Tanaka and upcoming trial of former LASD Sheriff Baca one would think an appeal would have merit. The claim made by many that they were following orders by superiors has been shown to in fact be true. The Sheriff was probably senile…I mean suffering from a mental disorder at the time. How can this not lead one down the path to believe LASD was broken from the top down. I guess it’s true..justice is blind to the truth sometimes.

  • Justice.. I think everyone agrees they were taking orders. The debate begins there. Are they still culpable or victims? I’ve admitted from the beginning that as young custody deputy and a Sgt., Lt., Capt. (Not to mention the Under Sheriff) ordered me to hide an inmate and change his name, I would have hid the inmate and changed his name.

  • The bottom line is that they did things to get ahead. I’m sure there are many people that read this blog who have received a call from and executive asking for a favor. Well they just happened to pick the wrong favor. If PT would’t have been such an asshole and if Olmsted didn’t step up nothing would have changed on the department. However, the sheriff had been approached on a daily basis and informed of the bullshit and did nothing but, he traveled the world and left the fox in the hen house. For the next 15 years sheriff personnel will have to deal with the issues. Look what happened when they wouldn’t promote bouman to sgt. Happened in the 70’s impacted people in the 90’s and on.

  • The standing eight count is over. The referee has called it off. What a shame. Here’s one thought I had re: Sexton the other day. What are the chances that a kid from Tuscaloosa ends up on the LASD if his daddy doesn’t even know Lee Baca? If his pops never met Moonbeam, what’s the chance he ends up on LASD?
    If you pull every jacket in Personnel from the last 20 years, how many LASD deputies will you find from Tuscaloosa?
    Don’t think for one minute that the thought hasn’t crossed the minds of the kid and all his loved ones.
    You can bet the farm they’re sorry that pops ever met Baca.

    Of all the gin joints in all the world.

  • Lonestar Justice is calling it a spade. These works we to this stupid operation willingly and did so for professional gain, period. They were working directly for the little man and they all were looking for their rewards of promotions and prime assignments. I encourage everyone to read the 9th District’s opinion (link in WLA article), the actions each of these convicted felons took that resulted in their indictment, trial and conviction, is laid out in detail. “I was only following orders,” was shot down because it was a straw man argument. So all you Tanaka lovers and worshippers, are you guys having a good laugh? Calling Paul and telling him what a great guy he is and telling him that all the fellas miss him? Or are the same calling these seven schmucks who are packing a suitcase getting ready to check-in, and telling them they are warriors, loyal warriors? Are they offering to put money on their books and will mow their lawns? Nope, these seven warriors, loyal warriors are going to find out how lonely life will be. Just wait till their first Thanksgiving, their first Christmas, their first kid’s birthday. Maybe they can hook up with Tanaka in the “yard,” kiss his ring and bow while they say, “We did this for you, Paul, we never wavered.” Yep, it’s all over but the crying and I imagine there has been a lot of that going on. Hey McD, why don’t you ask your two EPC Tanaka doormen and bundlers what they think of all this? I’m sure they have some pearls of wisdom for all to consume. You know who they are, and so do the troops.

  • I realize these folks were following orders. If you know it is illegal or you are not supposed to do it, do you still do it. It the boss told you to shoot somebody would you? All of these folks carry a gun and were hired to enforce the law. Saying that they were just following orders, really. They did what they did, sergeants and lieutenants, because they wanted to show support to too tall Paul tanaka. They thought they would get something in return for their loyalty and handling the dirty work. Straight mafia style work. Somebody, and there were some, should have stood up and said no. Now they all go to jail. How did that work for you. PT gave you bad advise, bad direction, and you stupidly followed it right down the toilet. Let’s hope the young deps watching this make better choices for their future.

  • A birdie tells me that there is some crying going on in the background ( and they aint tears of Joy ) and some thoughts of some trying to make last minute deals……the realization of prison is not sitting well for some of them…..

  • At Spade, yep I read the 9th District’s opinion and it is very detailed. These 7 did this to themselves. I am sure they were following orders, but they knew what they were doing was wrong, and should have done something to stop it. I wonder why somebody like the Commander of Cusody Division’s Personnel, did not step in. Everyone knows how connected to Baca’s backside he was. Maybe if he was not out “chasing tail” at the time, he would have realized what kind of non-sense was going on in his jail.

  • There are many people that did say “no” to PT. They are very happy with their job or retirement. However, once they said NO they knew their career was over.

  • When you thought that you were bigger than the Feds and the gall to threaten one of them is unheard of. Imagine the power you wielded over the public with arrogance and abuse. Now you’ll have plenty of time to “rewind” and play it back in your mind in a Federal Peneitentiary as a convicted felon. Personally for Thompson, time to pay for your crimes in the city of Lynwood-1980’s

  • #17 Finally: I will give it to you regarding the Pandoras Box debacle. I will also say Greg Thompson made a huge error aligning himself with a coward and police imposter named Paul Tanaka, as others did at Lynwood. What I will state loud and clear is that Greg Thompson was an amazing street cop and an even better Gang Investigator at Lynwood Station during the late 80’s and the 90’s. This was the heyday era of ‘Rock Cocaine” and gang violence. What I witnessed about Thompson during that era at Lynwood was a man that put a boat load of the most violent gang bangers in the country in prison.

  • Now Greg Thompson might be able to hang out with these ” gang bangers” in prison. I wonder if he will get to see anybody in prison from his “Amazing Street Cop Days.”

    The whole thing is so sad. I wish him luck.

  • #18 Stuff: No need to review Thompson’s criminal acts.

    Rafael Perez (LAPD Rampart) was also a good street cop and a top notch gang ivestigator assigned to LAPD CRASH.

    Karma kicked both Perez & Thompson in the ass…no difference. In the end, justice was served.

  • #20 Lonestar: Maybe he will get to hang out with some of them in prison, that’s the cost of sleeping with Tanaka, and be honest Pal, you wish him no luck at all.

    #21 Info Only: Rafael was a flamboyant criminal who planted dope and guns on every other gangster he stopped (which is what inept cops do) and was a lump as an investigator, so there is a big difference between that and the police work Thompson did. Try not to confuse that with the stupid shit he did for Paul Tanaka.

  • Wasn’t there a story in WLA or the LAT where someone provided Thompson a memo providing detailed information about a Deputy at MCJ who was selling or providing drugs to an inmate((s)? And as I recalled, instead of Thompson providing that info directly to his Chief and then ICIB, Thompson approaches the suspect deputy directly, shows him the memo with the name(s) of the informant inmate as well as the deputies inside his own unit, OSJ, who generated the memo, and tells the suspect deputy, “knock it off.” Really? Knock it off? I heard Tanaka provided that direction so the media would not report the incident. I think he was moved to Temple Station and IAB did an investigation that did not work out for Thompson. Great street cop? Maybe when he was a patrol guy, but as so many associated with Tanaka, lost his way. If someone has details, please clarify. What ever happened to the deputy, Tanaka make him a Bonus Deputy and a coin?

  • Stop making excuses for Greg Thompson. He was a grown-ass man who lacked a gut check, period.

  • #23 (Calling it a Spade):

    Yep, there was such a story & the whole thing can be Googled “Greg Thompson, LASD.”

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