Former Sheriff Baca Remains Free on Appeal

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Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca remains out of prison as his Alzheimer’s disease progresses and he continues to fight the three-year prison sentence handed down on March 15, according to media reports.
The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that Baca’s legal team will appeal a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson that Baca, a longtime local resident, should report for his prison sentence as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether he received a fair trial.
Baca was found guilty March 15 of obstructing a federal investigation into allegations of inmate abuse at the Los Angeles County Jail facilities and also lying to cover up the obstruction.
The guilty verdict came after convictions or guilty pleas from a multitude of Baca’s former deputies and officials with roles in the abuse and cover-up.
Last year, a jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquitting Baca, resulting in a mistrial.
In the second trial this year, Anderson said Baca, 75, should spend “his best remaining days” behind bars, a reference to a determination by doctors that Baca’s Alzheimer’s will likely get substantially worse in the coming years.
Jurors in the most recent trial decided that Baca coordinated the series of obstructions against FBI agents conducting the investigation, despite the insistence of Baca’s lawyer during trial that his former undersheriff Paul Tanaka was the ringleader. Tanaka was convicted last year of obstruction and conspiracy as part of this federal probe and sentenced to five years in prison.
Despite Anderson’s ruling, Baca will remain free on appeal while his lawyers appeal the recent decision ordering him to report to prison, as allowed by court rules, the Times reported. Like Baca’s appeal of his conviction, this one also is being considered by the 9th Circuit.
In his ruling, Anderson said he believed Baca’s lucidity issues from the Alzheimer’s could “complicate or prevent resentencing or further proceedings,” according to the Times.
During his career as L.A. County Sheriff, which lasted from 1998 to 2014, Baca was considered a respected figure by many. But his tenure also was marred by allegations of violent abuse of inmates by deputies and cover-ups, as alleged in a report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.

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