Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was sentenced Friday after being convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in March of this year. The charges came after an FBI investigation into ongoing mismanagement and abuse of inmates in LA County jails.
At one point Baca pled guilty to lesser charges, but US District Judge Percy Anderson rejected the deal because he felt the six-month sentence was too lenient. The case was tried twice. The first resulted in a mistrial, with the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal. In March 2017 a new jury convicted Baca.
Today, Baca was sentenced to three years in prison, to begin July 25.
Before announcing the sentence, the judge remarked that Baca was still attempting to blame others for his actions.
“You placed yourself in this position,” the judge said. “You had opportunity after opportunity to put a stop to it.”
Anderson said…Baca was “at least as culpable” as [former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. He said the entire scheme may never have transpired were it not for Baca.
“In the end, that is your legacy,” Anderson said.
Indeed, after the sentencing Baca spoke to reporters and claimed that he was in the right.
Baca still defiant: "There is right and wrong…Final comment, I will never accept a cellphone in the cty jail given to a career criminal" pic.twitter.com/r9FrgiQbkL
— Victoria Kim (@vicjkim) May 12, 2017
Baca’s attorney, Nathan Hochman, pleaded for leniency in sentencing since Baca was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year, claiming that an he would not receive adequate healthcare in prison. Anderson said that he would have sentenced Baca to five years in prison if not for the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“As awful as Alzheimer’s disease is, it’s not a criminal penalty,” Anderson said. “Alzheimer’s disease is not a get-out-of-jail card.”
Hochman said that many of Judge Anderson’s rulings in the case showed a bias against Baca, and he plans to appeal.