Former Los Angeles sheriff’s captain pleads guilty to lying at trial

20 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ex-sheriff’s captain pleads guilty in corruption case.

LOS ANGELES — A former captain with the nation’s largest sheriff’s department pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying on the witness stand during a widespread misconduct investigation into abuse within the Los Angeles County jail system. William “Tom” Carey entered his plea in a downtown courtroom, admitting to a single charge of lying during his testimony at a trial last year of a sheriff’s deputy who faced obstruction charges. In exchange for his plea and cooperation, Carey — the highest-ranking official to be convicted in the ongoing jail probe — can expect to receive a reduced prison sentence of not more than 16 months, according to the document. Carey and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka were charged in May with obstruction of justice, with conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice. In exchange, Carey is expected to cooperate with federal authorities as they go after Paul Tanaka, once the second-highest-ranking official in the Sheriff’s Department.

However, the maximum possible penalty when he goes before the judge for sentencing on Jan. 25 is five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. “Yes, your honor,” Carey responded when asked by U.S. Carey and Tanaka were indicted in May on several counts of wrongdoing in which they were accused of taking part in a scheme to thwart a federal investigation into the use of excessive force and corruption in the network of jails operated by the department. Carey was head of the department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, tasked to “root out the very corruption” charged in the federal probe, then-acting U.S. The convictions stem from a grand jury investigation that began in 2010 into allegations of abuse and corruption at the downtown Men’s Central Jail. Prosecutors say deputies tried to hide an FBI jail informant from his handlers for two weeks in 2011 by shifting him from cell to cell at various jails under different names and altering jail computer records.

The case against the deputy centered largely on efforts by him and other sheriff’s officials to conceal the whereabouts of an inmate after discovering he was working as an informant for the FBI. The deputies argued during the trials that they were not trying to interfere with the FBI’s investigation but moved the inmate to keep him safe from other inmates and deputies. Tanaka and Carey were the eighth and ninth sheriff’s department officials to face criminal charges connected to actions taken in August 2011, when inmate-turned-FBI informant Anthony Brown was hidden from his FBI handlers.

In a trial of multiple deputies, Tanaka testified for the defense that he was barely involved and was following Baca’s orders that he thought were lawful. A half-dozen former department officials — two lieutenants, two sergeants and two deputies — were convicted in 2014 for their roles in the cover-up and received federal prison sentences ranging from 21 to 41 months. Dean Steward, conceded in an interview last week that Carey’s decision to strike a deal and cooperate with prosecutors complicates matters for his client.

Court testimony has placed him at some of the meetings where sheriff’s officials discussed moving the inmate informant around the jails and confronting an FBI agent at her home. The federal lawsuit seeks damages for cruel and unusual punishment, municipal and supervisory liability, failure to provide adequate medical care, retaliation and civil conspiracy.

Because Carey has no criminal record, federal guidelines call for a maximum sentence of 15 to 21 months, said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School and a former federal prosecutor. Judge Percy Anderson that Carey receive credit for “acceptance of responsibility.” He could end up with a sentence of home detention and almost no prison time, Levenson said.

Having Carey share what he knows and being available to testify gives prosecutors more ammunition against Tanaka but does not necessarily mean they intend to go after Baca, Levenson said. Still, Carey’s knowledge of high-level deliberations could be cause for concern for both his former bosses, she said. “It’s got to make both Tanaka and Baca nervous,” Levenson said. “Now you have someone from the higher echelons who can tell prosecutors what was happening and what people at the top did or should have done.”

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