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Corruption Plagues Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

A California sheriff’s department plagued with corruption had two top former officials hit with federal charges this week.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’ former second in command, Paul Tanaka, and the former overseer of internal criminal investigations, William Thomas Carey, pleaded not guilty Thursday to obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges.

grand jury indicted the pair Wednesday for allegations that they participated in and tried to cover up a string of incidents of inmate abuse and corrupt practices within the jail system. These charges stem from an investigation into the LASD that has led to charges against 21 officers so far.

“The allegations in the indictment include cover-ups, diversionary tactics, retribution and a culture generally reserved for Hollywood scripts,” David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI, said in a statement.  “The public held the defendants to the highest standard, but, instead, they spent their time and energy setting a tone which minimized the value of their oath and dishonored the badge they wore.”

When Tanaka and Carey found out that an informant within one of their jails was working with the FBI to expose problems in the jail, they allegedly forged documents to make it appear that he had been released, hid the inmate away isolated from FBI contact and told him the FBI had left him high and dry.

Tanaka and Carey also allegedly convinced two police sergeants to go to the home of the case’s lead FBI agent and intimidate and threaten to arrest her.

“As the allegations demonstrate, Tanaka had a large role in institutionalizing certain illegal behavior within the sheriff’s department,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said in a statement.  “This case also illustrates how leaders who foster and then try to hide a corrupt culture, will be held accountable, just like their subordinates.”

Tanaka’s lawyer told The Los Angeles Times in a statement that the charges were “baseless.”

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