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Los Angeles Sheriff's Officials Indicted over Jail Scandal

Thursday, 14 May 2015 02:02 PM

A federal grand jury indicted a former Los Angeles County undersheriff and a retired captain on obstruction and conspiracy charges in a long-running investigation of inmate abuse and corruption, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was the second-highest official in the sheriff's department, is accused alongside another former official of leading efforts to quash a federal probe of corruption and civil rights violations at two downtown jail complexes, acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said.

Tanaka, who last year ran unsuccessfully for sheriff, surrendered to federal law enforcement on Thursday, officials said. The other former official, William Carey, who oversaw internal criminal investigations at the department, also turned himself in.

"The allegations in the indictment include cover-ups, diversionary tactics, retribution and a culture generally reserved for Hollywood scripts," David Bowdich, an FBI assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office, said at a news conference.

Tanaka's attorney H. Dean Steward said in a statement he would aggressively defend against the charges.

"At all times, Mr. Tanaka dedicated himself to serving the residents of Los Angeles County honorably, ethically and legally," Steward said.

Carey's attorney declined to comment.

Indictments unsealed in December 2013 accused about 20 current and former sheriff's deputies of subjecting inmates and visitors at two downtown Los Angeles lockups to unjustified beatings or detentions and of trying to cover up wrongdoing.

Several officers were found to have gone so far as to try to prevent contact between federal investigators and an inmate informant for the FBI after his cover was blown. They altered records to make it appear the informant had been released from jail, then re-booked him under false names.

The highest-ranking officials charged in that investigation were two lieutenants in the sheriff's department, who were among seven officials convicted of obstruction of justice and other charges last year.

Yonekura said the latest charges show the scheme to obstruct justice rose to the "executive level" of the Sheriff's Department, and she noted the high rank held by Tanaka.

But, in response to questions from reporters, she declined to comment on whether former Sheriff Lee Baca might be charged in the case. He retired last year, before finishing his term and as criminal prosecution of his deputies moved forward.

The sheriff's department is responsible for managing the Los Angeles County jail system, which houses some 22,000 inmates and is the largest in the nation.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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A federal grand jury indicted a former Los Angeles County undersheriff and a retired captain on obstruction and conspiracy charges in a long-running investigation of inmate abuse and corruption, prosecutors said on Thursday. Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was the...
la, sheriffs, indicted, jail, scandal
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2015-02-14
Thursday, 14 May 2015 02:02 PM
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