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Ex- Los Angeles County Sheriff convicted of obstruction of Justice and lying

Lee Baca, 74 was convicted Wednesday of helping to obstruct the 2011 FBI investigation into corrupt guards who savagely beat inmates in his jails and bribes to smuggle contraband into the jails, he was also convicted of lying about trying to obstruct the probe.

He now faces up to 20 years in prison for directing deputies in 2011 to hide informant from FBI agents who were investigating the abuse of inmates in the county jails.

“As the former leader of one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in this nation, Lee Baca knew what was right and what was wrong,” Acting U.S. Atty. Sandra Brown said at a late afternoon press conference. “And he made a decision. That decision was to commit a crime.”

Brown said the investigation ultimately changed the department, leading to a monitor for the jails and a fundamental change in the culture.

In addition to tarnishing his reputation as a policing innovator and jail reformer, the conviction threatens to put Baca, 74, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, behind bars for up to 20 years.

“I disagree with the particular verdict,” Baca said. “You’ve known me for a long time. I am a faith-based person. My mentality is always optimistic and I look forward to winning on appeal.”

“I love the people of Los Angeles County. I love the United States of America and I love diversity,” he continued. “It’s just a privilege to be alive.”

“My mentality is always optimistic,” Baca said, reading from notes. “I look forward to winning on appeal.”

Following the verdict, Baca thanked his family, friends, legal team and supporters.