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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-LA Undersheriff Convicted of Obstruction

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal jury took just two hours on Wednesday to find former LA undersheriff Paul Tanaka guilty of obstructing an FBI investigation into officer abuse at the Men's Central Jail, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Jurors convicted Tanaka on one count each of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in June.

Prosecutors claimed that in addition to ignoring jail violence and other acts of misconduct, Tanaka blocked the FBI from entering the jail to interview inmates and shuffled an FBI informant around in an effort to hide him from the agency.

Tanaka denied those allegations on the witness stand this past week.

Earlier in the trial, jurors also heard testimony by a former Los Angeles sheriff's captain who said Tanaka undermined his efforts to dismantle a group of rogue officers called the "Regulators" - eventually transferring the captain to another station after meeting with the group's leaders in the station parking lot.

Tanaka's conviction comes less than two months after former LA County sheriff Leroy Baca pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators during the federal probe. Baca faces five years in prison when he is sentenced May 16.

So far 19 people have been convicted as a result of the FBI's investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at Men's Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility, also in downtown LA.

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