LOS ANGELES — Former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca told three lies to federal authorities who were investigating corruption at the jails he ran, according to a newspaper report.
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that recorded interviews reveal Baca denied knowing about efforts to stifle the probe into abuse at the jails by hiding an inmate who was working as an FBI informant, or that two of his deputies intimidated an FBI agent at her home.
“I wasn’t aware of any of the ... particulars,” he said.
Baca, who headed the nation’s largest sheriff's departments for more than 15 years, had largely been out of sight since leaving office in January 2014. He consistently dodged questions about any connection to the corruption even as former underlings pleaded guilty or were convicted.
During his four-hour interview with a federal prosecutor, Baca portrayed himself as a hands-off manager who knew nothing about attempts to keep the informant away from FBI agents. He also denied knowing that deputies had interrupted and ended a jailhouse interview between FBI agents and the informant, or knowing that deputies went to the lead FBI agent’s house and threatened to arrest her.
On Wednesday, he pled guilty to lying to federal authorities.
According to the plea agreement, Baca ordered that the informant be isolated and instructed deputies to approach the FBI agent and “do everything but put handcuffs on her.”
Court papers show a lieutenant working in the jails had apologized to Baca for allowing the FBI agents to speak with the informant.
In the interview, Baca said a threat by one of the deputies to arrest the FBI agent was inappropriate and an “impulsive reaction.”
When asked whether the deputy actually intend to arrest her, or was bluffing, Baca replied: “I don’t believe anyone should lie under any circumstances.”
He faces up to six months behind bars when he is sentenced on May 16.