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Feds Indict Former High-Ranking Los Angeles County Sheriff's Officials for Obstruction

May 14, 2015  | 

Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. Tanaka ran for sheriff and lost in the last election. (Photo: KABC TV screen shot)
Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was indicted by a federal grand jury on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. Tanaka ran for sheriff and lost in the last election. (Photo: KABC TV screen shot)

Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and a second high-ranking officer in the Sheriff's Department orchestrated a plot to obstruct a federal investigation into excessive force and corruption in the county’s jails, according to a federal grand jury indictment.

The indictment outlines a litany of orders Tanaka and former Capt. William "Tom" Carey allegedly gave in the summer of 2011 to sheriff’s deputies working to conceal from FBI agents the whereabouts of an inmate the FBI was using as an informant.

Tanaka and Carey face charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. In addition, Carey is accused of giving false testimony during last year's corruption trials of lower-ranking sheriff's officials.

Tanaka, who is now the mayor of Gardena, Calif., and Carey surrendered to authorities Thursday in response to the federal grand jury indictment, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The charges against Tanaka are “baseless” and he plans to “aggressively defend” himself in court, his attorney, H. Dean Steward, said in a statement.

“At all times, Mr. Tanaka dedicated himself to serving the residents of Los Angeles County honorably, ethically and legally,” said Steward. “After all the facts come to light, we are confident he will be exonerated of any wrongdoing.”

Carey could not be reached for comment.

Tanaka and Carey are the eighth and ninth LASD officials to face criminal charges stemming from actions taken in the summer of 2011 when inmate-turned-FBI informant Anthony Brown was hidden from his FBI handlers.

In a complex scheme that became known as "Operation Pandora's Box," Brown was booked and re-booked under a series of false names, moved to multiple locations and eventually told by LASD officials that the FBI had abandoned him, KABC TV reports. 

Seven now-former LASD deputies, sergeants and lieutenants were convicted last year for their roles in the operation. All seven argued they were only following orders from their superiors in what they believed to be a legitimate law enforcement investigation into how and why a contraband cell phone got into the jail.

Tanaka retired from the Sheriff's Department in 2013. He ran to replace long-serving Sheriff Lee Baca but was beaten by a wide margin by then-Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.


Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

notmeofficer @ 5/14/2015 5:58 PM

Form the days at lynwood to the cigar factory and backroom promotion of the special tanaka favorites to the tatto on your ankle...

You plain forgot what a fabulous department we had... and you used it for your own gratification. Now we will have federal oversight and the department, once a proud model for all departments and staffed by thousands of honest hard working deputies, will be changed for the worse,,, forever... because of you...

99 percent of us lived a" tradition of service".. sadly you forgot it

Makes me sick

RetiredChief @ 5/14/2015 7:21 PM

As a former member of the LASD I can say without reservation that this was a long time coming but well deserved. As I am sure will come out at trial he single handedly did more to tarnish LASD's reputation than anyone in its history.

417 @ 5/15/2015 8:21 AM

Tanaka has destroyed the best Sheriff's Dept in the country. He instilled fear and ruled with a psychotic mentality that severely degraded morale and productivity. And let's not forget his infamous "freeway therapy". Personally glad to see him indicted, even better would be seeing him in cuffs.

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/16/2015 10:46 PM


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