The US Attorney’s office accepted a plea deal from former LASD head man Lee Baca, for lying to Federal investigators about his involvement in a prison abuse scandal, which has already claimed 18 prosecutions in Operation Pandora’s Box.
Baca served as the elected Sheriff of Los Angeles County, California for 16 years.
The LA Times editorial board went so far as to offer that former LA County Sheriff Baca should occupy the cell only recently vacated by former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona, the next county south.
Only in Los Angeles would we see a top ranking police official seeking to intimidate an FBI Agent and lie about all of it, but that’s what his federal plea agreement says, in exchange for a six month federal prison sentence.
In it, Baca admitted to lying twice about his involvement in hiding a jail inmate from FBI investigators. He also ordered the inmate to be isolated, and placed Paul Tanaka in charge of executing his plan – the second ranking member of the department.
Baca also admitted that he lied about being unaware that his subordinates planned to approach an FBI special agent at her home. At the time, Baca personally directed the subordinates to approach the agent, stating that they should “do everything but put handcuffs” on her.
Operation Pandora’s Box all started with one principled, whistleblower officer.
Former LASD Commander Bob Olmstead, was a high ranking staff deputy at the when he was in placed charge of the jail system. When he arrived on the job, a failed police culture unlike any other in this country greeted him.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s jail also happens to be the largest county jail system in the country.
Olmstead was confronted with prison guards who were abusing steroids and bold to the point of telling their Commander that they ran the jail independent of supervision by the brass because their “deputy gangs” were in charge.
Don’t take our word for it, watch him talk about it in the video below.
Eventually, Olmstead went to the FBI with the abuse problems in the Los Angeles County jails.
When that didn’t finish the job, he turned to the press.
That’s what led eventually to the former LA Sheriff’s plea today.
998 – Police Radio Code for an “Officer Involved Shooting”
That’s right, the peace officers who run Los Angeles County’s jails formed their own police gangs, eventually spreading to the top levels of the department employing over 10,000 law enforcement officers in the largest Sheriff’s department in the country.
Yes, actual gangs of police officers exist in LA, including the Lynwood Vikings, the “Grim Reapers,” the “2000 boys,” and the “Jump Out Boys” and others unnamed here, whose police members use tattoos to commemorate their brutal acts of abuse. Tattoos bearing the number 998 became commonplace amongst members, which denoted that the deputy had “survived” an officer involved shooting.
In 1999, the LA Times reported the following soon after Baca’s rise to power as the Sheriff of Los Angeles: “Sheriff Lee Baca has long been a critic of the groups, though he believes an outright ban would be unconstitutional. He urges deputies to stay away from the organizations, saying they encourage unprofessional behavior.”
Clearly, the Sheriff was unfamiliar with the restrictions which nearly all other police officers face when donning a badge & gun on their First Amendment rights. For the sake of maintaining order amongst police, it’s not uncommon today for a social media policy to exist which impedes on officer free speech in their official acts. Certainly, if departments regulate officers’ social media use today, without facing a litany of lawsuits, then regulating choice of gang memberships probably falls under one of those areas a police department may legally restrict it’s employees from doing. That’s the price of accepting a government salary, rules and regulations which may apply to an officer but not a citizen, because one ceases to be a private citizen at that point, and literally becomes a state actor.
Ultimately, Baca clearly did little to police his police when they engaged in gang warfare against citizens.
Literal, gang warfare.
People, we can’t make this shit up.
Baca and Tanaka were trying to cover up for a multitude of cases.
One wonders if they had any time left over to enforce any actual laws, with all of the effort it must’ve taken to cover for LASD’s horrendous jail system and other offenses. PINAC readers probably remember this department from a December 2015 story and video showing two LA deputies from this same department shooting and killing Noel Aguilar with three shots in the back. A citizen’s cell phone video was only recently released to the public more than a year after the unarmed man was killed by deputies while riding his bicycle.
The LASD’s toxic culture hasn’t changed much yet since Baca’s departure, even though there’s a new sheriff in town. But police accountability activists finally have found a new poster child for police abuse in Los Angeles, and the dominos continue to fall from the Operation Pandora’s Box investigation.