Ex-Undersheriff Denied Bail in Obstruction Case

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Former Los Angeles Undersheriff Paul Tanaka won’t be granted bail pending an appeal of his obstruction conviction, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
     In June, Tanaka was sentenced to five years in federal prison after a jury convicted him of conspiring to obstruct an FBI investigation into charges of excessive force used against inmates and other civil rights abuses at two county jails.
     At Wednesday’s hearing, Tanaka’s attorney Dean Steward said Tanaka did not represent a flight risk, was not a danger to the community and raised several “substantial” issues on appeal.
     But federal prosecutor Brandon Fox argued the court should deny bail in light of the Ninth Circuit’s decision against seven other officials who were convicted in the same scheme.
     U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found that none of the appealable issues merited reversal of Tanaka’s conviction and denied the motion for bail.
     Tanaka claims in court documents that he did not receive a fair trial because his former boss, then-sheriff Leroy Baca, did not testify.
     In a July motion, Tanaka named Baca as the “sole architect” of a scheme to move inmate and FBI informant Anthony Brown within the jail system to keep him away from investigators after jailers found an FBI phone in his cell.
     In a supplemental brief filed before the hearing, Tanaka abandoned that theory and said the court should have allowed Baca to testify during his trial.
     “The big void in the case was that the jury never heard from the Sheriff,” the Sept. 20 filing states. “Clearly, he started the investigative ball rolling for the LASD [Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department] when, after the initial meetings following the discovery that the FBI had smuggled a phone into the jail to Brown, the Sheriff issued orders for his deputies in the ICIB [Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau] to investigate the matter while protecting Brown.”
     Tanaka says he couldn’t present a complete defense without Baca’s testimony.
     Judge Anderson disagreed, noting that Baca’s testimony would not have contradicted the testimony of Deputy Mickey Manzo, who was granted immunity to testify against Tanaka.
     Tanaka also claims the court should not have admitted evidence that he was a member of a deputy gang called the Vikings known for civil-rights abuses. According to Tanaka, the court used the admission to establish an element of intent to obstruct, even though the government did not present credible evidence that the gang existed.
     Anderson insisted that evidence of Tanaka’s membership in the clique was “probative of his intent and credibility” because he had taken the stand and said he had “no tolerance” for deputies who broke the law.
     His membership in the Vikings undermined that assertion, Anderson said.
     Tanaka, who has remained out on bail, was ordered to surrender to authorities on Oct. 7 at 3:00 p.m.
     Former sheriff Baca is facing a December trial on conspiracy and obstruction charges.
     On Monday, he filed motions to disqualify Judge Anderson, recuse Fox and move his trial to another courtroom.

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