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Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka Sentenced To Five Years In Prison
Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka has been sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the jail abuse scandal.
Tanaka was found guilty in April of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for attempting to block a federal probe into the county's jail system.
"Not only did he fail to identify and address problems in the jails, he exacerbated them," said U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who sentenced Tanaka on Monday morning.
"One of the most troubling things is... your efforts to shield dirty deputies have been largely successful," Anderson said to Tanaka before delivering the sentence, reports City News Service. Anderson added that several corrupt deputies remain in "positions of authority" within the Sheriff's Department despite over a dozen convictions of sheriff's officials in similar cases of abuse and corruption.
Former L.A. County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka sentenced to five years in prison for obstructing federal investigation into jails.— US Attorney L.A. (@USAO_LosAngeles) June 27, 2016
According to KPCC, seven lower-ranked officials have been sentenced to prison so far. Tanaka's sentence is the longest handed out so far among sheriff's officials.
Tanaka's attorneys contend that the undersheriff was scapegoated and most of the blame should go to former Sheriff Lee Baca. "None of this would have happened if Baca had simply cooperated with the FBI at the beginning," wrote Tanaka's attorney in a memo, recommending his client get no prison time, reports the L.A. Times.
Baca plead guilty in February for lying to federal investigators. He will serve no more than six months in prison as part of the plea deal.
Prosecutors say Tanaka led an attempt to hide an FBI informant within the jails from federal investigators, and even threatened an FBI agent.
Tanaka also currently serves as the mayor of Gardena. He will surrender on August 1, and also serve two years of supervised release following prison and pay a $7,500 fine.