Convicted ex-LA sheriff nears end of appeals to avoid prison

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca could face time behind bars after a federal court rejected the appeal of his conviction on corruption charges.

Baca, who is 76 and has Alzheimer's disease, was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into abuses at the nation's largest jail system. He was also convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and lying to federal authorities.

In his appeal, Baca's attorneys argued the verdict should be reversed because it was tainted by rulings from U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson during the trial. They focused on Anderson's decision to bar the jury from hearing testimony about Baca's Alzheimer's diagnosis and about a conversation he had with an aide about the FBI's investigation.

Defense lawyers argued either piece of information could have helped sway the jury in Baca's favor.

A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected those claims, ruling that the trial was fair and the conviction legally sound.

The Los Angeles Times reports Baca's lawyers have a few last-ditch options available, including asking the full 9th Circuit court to hear the case.

Baca was convicted nearly six years after he learned that a jail inmate caught with a contraband cellphone was working to provide the FBI with evidence of brutal beatings by guards.



Dawn Kamber