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|Five Deputies Charged in Federal Case Plead Not Guilty|
|Written by San Fernando Valley Sun|
|Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00|
LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Five Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials implicated in a wide-ranging federal probe of alleged abuses inside county jails pleaded not guilty Monday, Dec. 16 to conspiracy and obstruction-of-justice charges. Lt. Gregory Thompson, Deputy Gerard Smith, Sgt. Scott Craig, Deputy James Sexton and Sgt. Maricella Long all entered notguilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson.
The five are charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice for what federal prosecutors described as an elaborate effort to interfere with an FBI probe of activities inside county jails.
Craig and Long are also facing single counts of making a false statement to authorities.
The other two defendants in the case -- Lt. Stephen Leavins and Deputy Mickey Manzo -- pleaded not guilty last week.
The seven officials -- who are expected back in court on Jan. 6 for a status conference -- are among 18 who were named in a series of indictments unsealed last week alleging various acts of corruption, including abuse of jail inmates and visitors.
In the seven-defendant obstruction case, the indictment alleges that an inmate identified only as "AB'' was working as an informant for the FBI in connection with the federal probe. On Aug. 25, 2011, a federal judge ordered the inmate -- who was identified earlier by the Los Angeles Times as Anthony Brown -- to appear before a grand jury as part of the investigation.
After learning of the federal probe, the defendants "knowingly conspired to corruptly influence, obstruct and impede, and endeavor to influence, obstruct and impede, the due administration of justice,'' the indictment alleges.
After the informant's cover was blown, sheriff's officials moved him around the jail to keep him hidden from federal authorities, re-booked him using different names and even altered jail records to make it appear that he had been released, according to the indictment.
The defendants also grilled the informant "to attempt to determine the manner and extent of the federal investigation,'' according to the indictment.
The indictment also alleges that Leavins, Craig and Long tried to dissuade potential witnesses from cooperating with the federal probe, unsuccessfully sought a court order to compel the FBI to provide explicit details of the jail probe and tried to intimidate an FBI agent by going to her home and threatening to arrest her.
Sexton was the last of the 18 defendants in the various indictments to make a court appearance, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. All of them are free on bond.
Sheriff Lee Baca said last week that the defendants who are still with the department would be suspended without pay.
|Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2013 02:20|