Ex-L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca is to be retried by Federal prosecutors. The case centres on accusations that Baca tried to block an FBI investigation into the country’s jails. The original trial was declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a conclusive decision.
U.S attorney’s office has also been allowed to add the charge of making false statements to federal authorities.
During Baca’s original two-week trials, prosecutors tried to convince a jury that Baca and his subordinates conspired to thwart an FBI investigation into abuses and corruption by the sheriff’s deputies who were working as jailers.
Baca’s defense was that he was unaware of the plot. All but one juror after days of deliberation believed him. Judge Anderson declared the mistrial.
So far nine people have pleaded guilty or have been convicted in their role to obstruct the FBI investigation.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox, head of anti-corruption tried to imply that Baca had been the “heartbeat” of the operation. Due to less hard evidence to implicate Baca, and few witnesses coming forward to give testimony the jury, except for one, rejected Fox’s claim.
Initially, Fox and U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker offered Baca a deal. If he admitted to the less serious charge of making false statements he would only serve six months in jail. Judge Anderson, however, ruled this was too lenient. As such Baca rejected the deal and took his chances at trial.
Baca is in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and this was going to be used by Nathan Hochman, Baca’s attorney. He made it clear that he would use his deteriorating mind to fight the making false statement charge Baca had also been charged with.
Anderson split the trial so one jury would give a verdict on the false statement charge.
Although it prevented his illness being used as a defence it also prevented prosecutors from making the case Baca had lied.