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L.A. sheriff's deputy to be retried for obstruction, attorney says

CrimeLaw EnforcementTrials and ArbitrationJustice SystemFBI
Feds to retry seventh L.A. County sheriff's deputy in obstruction case, attorney says

After securing verdicts against six L.A. County Sheriff’s Department officials, federal prosecutors have decided to retry a seventh deputy charged with obstructing a federal grand jury investigation into civil rights violations in county jails, the deputy’s attorney said. 

A jury deadlocked 6-6 in late May on whether to convict deputy James Sexton for his involvement in the handling of an inmate at Men’s Central Jail. Prosecutors alleged Sexton was an integral part in the plot to hide inmate Anthony Brown, who was working as a federal informant, from his FBI handlers.

Sexton’s attorney, former U.S. Atty. Thomas O’Brien, said he expected prosecutors to inform the judge of the decision at a hearing Monday but declined to comment further. Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox declined to confirm or to comment.

On Tuesday, a second jury returned guilty verdicts against six of Sexton’s colleagues, including his supervisor at an investigative unit at the jails, Lt. Gregory Thompson, and two deputies Sexton worked with in moving Brown around in the jails, Gerard Smith and Mickey Manzo. Also convicted were a second lieutenant, Stephen Leavins, and Sgts. Maricela Long and Scott Craig.

O’Brien had emphasized at Sexton’s trial that the deputy had a mere three years on the job and had little to no say in how Brown was handled.

He asked jurors to discount most of Sexton’s own testimony before the grand jury, saying the young deputy was trying to puff himself up and exaggerate his role. He painted the deputy as an unwitting casualty of a “turf war” between the leaders of the sheriff’s department and the FBI.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, put significant weight on the deputy’s own words in which he said he knew not all of his and his colleagues’ actions had been legal, and called it “smoke and mirrors” and “kidnapping.”

It was Sexton, they contended, who had knowledge of the jail’s inmate tracking systems and had devised plans for how to keep Brown concealed under fake names that were changed every 48 hours.

Follow @vicjkim for news on the courts.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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