Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

The sad, sordid saga of former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca came to an end Friday, with a federal judge sentencing him to three years in prison for obstructing an FBI probe into abuse at county jails. It marks the conclusion of a widespread scandal that ensnared nine officials and shook the public’s confidence in its sheriff’s department to the core.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who had earlier nixed a plea deal that would have sent Baca to jail for no more than six months. Baca’s sentence, he said, should serve as a deterrent to other public servants considering breaking the law.

In issuing his rebuke, Judge Anderson did not hold back.

“Your actions embarrass the thousands of men and women who put their lives on the line every day. They were a gross abuse of the trust the public placed in you.”

“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” the judge added. “No person, no matter how powerful, no matter his or her title, is above the law.”

The 74-year-old sheriff is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down.

Baca must surrender to prison officials by July 25. It is unclear where he will serve out his sentence.


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