(CN) - Charges of corruption and multiple civil rights violations were leveled against 18 current and former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies, the result of an ongoing Justice Department investigation.
The five criminal cases unsealed Monday afternoon included four grand jury indictments and one criminal complaint alleging crimes ranging from the beating of inmates and visitors in county jail facilities to unlawful arrests to a conspiracy to obstruct misconduct at the Men's Central Jail.
Sixteen of the 18 charged were taken into custody and were to be arraigned on the charges at the federal courthouse in Los Angeles.
In a written statement, U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said the scope of the alleged activity demonstrated the behavior had become "institutionalized" and that "some members of the Sheriff's Department considered themselves to be above the law."
" Instead of cooperating with the federal investigation to ensure that corrupt law enforcement officers would be brought to justice, the defendants in this case are accused of taking affirmative steps designed to ensure that light would not shine on illegal conduct that violated basic constitutional rights," Birotte said.
In one of the cases, United States v. Thompson, et al., the Justice Department alleged deputy sheriffs went so far as to try to obtain an order from the Los Angeles Superior Court compelling the FBI to turn over information about its investigation to the LASD.
After the judge refused to issue such an order, the Justice Department said, two Sheriffs Department sergeants confronted an FBI special agent at her home in an attempt to intimidate her into providing details about the investigation.
The sergeants, who were charged in the case, are alleged to have falsely told the special agent and her supervisor that they were obtaining a warrant for her arrest, the Justice Department said.
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