STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A court has convicted the former sheriff of Los Angeles County. The sheriff, it is said, blocked an investigation into mistreatment of jail inmates, a crime for which the penalty can be jail. Here's Annie Gilbertson of KPCC.
ANNIE GILBERTSON, BYLINE: For 15 years, Lee Baca led the nation's largest sheriff's department. He was among the most powerful law enforcement leaders in the country. Part of the job was overseeing the jails where there were allegations of deputies beating inmates, including those in handcuffs. The FBI started investigating civil rights abuses. But their efforts were blocked in 2011 when the sheriff's department discovered a cell phone the FBI had given an informant. Deputies hid that inmate informant from the FBI. Later, they approached an FBI agent at her house and threatened to arrest her. Prosecutors said Sheriff Baca led the conspiracy.
Baca was tried once before. But the jury couldn't agree on a verdict. This time, a jury found Baca guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The jury foreman pointed to the testimony of the former assistant sheriff who said he warned Baca not to mess with the feds. Federal officials claimed victory and said the decision shows no one is above the law, not even the sheriff himself. Baca came out to the courthouse steps with his lawyers and wife, thanking them all. He vowed to appeal.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
LEE BACA: Now, you've known me for a long time. I am a faith-based person. My mentality is always optimistic. I look forward to winning on appeal.
GILBERTSON: Baca is 74 years old and has been diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer's. He now faces up to 20 years in federal prison. For NPR News, I'm Annie Gilbertson in Los Angeles.
(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD'S "VELVET")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.