Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca will stand trial for lying to prosecutors

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca changed his guilty plea to not guilty Monday and will stand trial for lying to federal prosecutors about his role in police abuses at Los Angeles County jails.

Baca’s legal team had previously worked out a plea deal, but it was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson for being too lenient. Lawyers for Baca met with prosecutors to negotiate a new deal Monday morning, but when those efforts failed, the former sheriff chose to change his plea and stand trial.

Baca’s trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 20.

The alternative for the former sheriff was to allow Anderson to automatically sentence him for making a false statement to federal investigators, which could carry up to five years in prison. Baca’s second-in-command Paul Tanka has already been sentenced to five years for obstruction of justice.

Baca’s attorneys told reporters prosecutors will likely file a new indictment on obstruction of justice charges.

U.S. Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tracy Webb would not comment.

“While my future and my ability to defend myself depend on my Alzheimer’s disease,” the 74-year-old former sheriff told reporters. “I need to set the record straight about me and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on misleading aspects of the federal investigation while I am capable of doing so.”

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