Ex-Sheriff Lee Baca Delays Prison Surrender, Asks To Remain Free During Appeal
Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who was sentenced to three years in prison in May, was granted a temporary stay as his lawyers ask that he remain free as his conviction is being appealed, reports Los Angeles Daily News.
The filing was made to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, a day before Baca was scheduled to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons. The filing automatically triggers a temporary stay that will allow Baca to stay out of prison as the Court of Appeals reviews Baca's request to be free on bond pending the appeal.
Baca’s attorney, Nathan Hochman, says that the ex-Sheriff should be allowed to stay at home during the appeals process as he is suffering from health complications. Hochman said that he is “75 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is not a danger to the community nor a flight risk,” according to the Daily News.
The filing comes a few days after a lower court had denied the same request made by Baca. In an order filed on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said his decision was based on his belief that Baca "has failed to raise a substantial question likely to result in reversal or new trial," according to KPCC. In Monday's filing, Hochman said that several factors should be in consideration, including the court's decision to not allow testimony from a specialist regarding Baca's Alzheimer’s diagnosis (the ex-Sheriff's lawyers had wanted to argue that the disease may have led him to misstate certain facts to federal agents).
Baca was convicted in March of obstructing a FBI investigation into alleged abuses in the Los Angeles County jail system that he oversaw. Prosecutors claimed, among other things, that Baca had ordered deputies to go to a federal agent's home to intimidate her. It was also alleged that an informant inside the jail system was being hidden by deputies; prosecutors say that deputies had changed the informant's name in the computer system, and had relocated the individual several times, with the intention of severing communication between the informant and federal agents.
Baca was convicted after a retrial; the initial trial had ended in December with a deadlocked jury.
Nine other deputies and officials have either pleaded guilty or been convicted for their involvement in the obstruction of justice schemes.