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Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca must report to prison by Feb. 5, judge rules

Lee Baca
Lee Baca announced his retirement as Los Angeles County sheriff in January 2014.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca must report to prison by Feb. 5 to begin serving a three-year sentence for his role in a scheme to obstruct an FBI investigation of abuses inside the county’s jails, a judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson came three days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-ditch, longshot request to review Baca’s case.

Baca, 77, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, was sentenced in 2017 after a jury found he oversaw the plan to interfere with the jails investigation and later lied to prosecutors about his role in the scheme.

He had been permitted to remain free while his case was on appeal.

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On Monday, the high court denied Baca’s writ of certiorari, filed July 18, which would have reopened his case for review. Last year, a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that his conviction for helping orchestrate a scheme to interfere with an FBI investigation into abuses at the county’s jails was fair and legally sound. The panel also denied Baca’s requests for another hearing or a new hearing in front of the entire 9th Circuit.

The Supreme Court’s decision cleared the way for Anderson, who sentenced Baca, to set a date when the former lawman must begin serving his sentence.

The 9th Circuit issued a mandate sending notice to Anderson, effectively putting the case back in his jurisdiction, on Wednesday. On Thursday, Anderson ordered that Baca surrender within 21 days of the notice. He has until noon on the 21st day — Feb. 5 — the order states.

Baca was the last in a group of Sheriff’s Department deputies and commanders to be accused of playing a role in the 2011 scandal, which involved hiding an inmate who was an FBI informant and threatening to arrest the agent who was leading the investigation. All 10 of the people who faced charges in the case have either pleaded guilty or been convicted. They included Baca’s second-in-command, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who in 2016 was sentenced to five years in prison after a jury found that he had played a leading role in the scheme.


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