LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the trial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on federal corruption charges (all times local):
A defense lawyer says the former Los Angeles County sheriff never conspired to obstruct a federal investigation into abuses at the jails he ran.
Attorney Nathan Hochman said Friday in opening statements in federal court that Lee Baca needed to keep his jails safe when he launched an investigation into why the FBI had smuggled a phone to an inmate.
Prosecutors say the 74-year-old Baca led the conspiracy to derail an FBI probe into jail beatings and corrupt guards.
Hochman says Baca’s top assistant was the heartbeat of the conspiracy and says evidence won’t connect Baca to a crime.
Baca, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, is on trial a second time after jurors deadlocked 11 to 1 last year to acquit him on obstruction charges.
A federal prosecutor says the former sheriff of Los Angeles County violated his pledge to shine a light on crime and instead concealed it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox said Friday in opening statements he would show that former Sheriff Lee Baca obstructed justice and lied to federal authorities to thwart an FBI investigation into civil rights abuses in county jails. Baca is facing a retrial on obstruction charges after a mistrial in December.
Jurors deadlocked 11-1 to acquit the 74-year-old former sheriff in that case. His defense lawyer argued that Baca was not part of any conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Baca headed the nation’s largest sheriff’s department for more than 15 years before resigning in 2014 amid allegations that jail guards took bribes, beat inmates and falsified reports.
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