A federal judge rejected a plea agreement Monday under which former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca would have served up to six months in prison for lying to federal authorities, saying the punishment was not severe enough, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Addressing prosecutors and Baca in a downtown courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson said the deal "would trivialize the seriousness of the offenses … the need for a just punishment, the need to deter others."
Anderson said he would allow Baca to withdraw his guilty plea and set a new hearing date for Aug. 1.
Baca must now choose between several unappealing options. He could go ahead with the sentencing and accept whatever punishment Anderson has in mind. He could withdraw his guilty plea and take his chances with charges the government might decide to bring. Or, he could negotiate a new deal with federal prosecutors for a longer sentence the judge would find more acceptable.
Baca's attorney, Michael Zweiback, said he was disappointed with the judge's decision but hoped to resume talks with prosecutors.