- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former undersheriff and a captain are subjects in a wide-ranging federal obstruction-of-justice probe involving the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a prosecutor said in court.

The revelations about former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, now a candidate for sheriff, and Capt. William Carey came Monday during the trial of the first of 20 lower-ranking sheriff’s officials charged in the ongoing investigation into excessive force and corruption at county jails, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Neither Tanaka nor Carey has been indicted. A message left Tuesday by The Associated Press at the Sheriff’s Department seeking comment from Carey was not immediately returned, and efforts to reach Tanaka were not immediately successful.

However, Tanaka told the Daily News of Los Angeles on Tuesday that he did nothing wrong. “Orders that I passed on or carried out, I believed to be lawful and still do,” Tanaka said.

Both men testified at the trial of Deputy James Sexton. Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox, Tanaka said he is aware that he is a subject of the probe.

Sexton’s attorneys are using Tanaka’s testimony to argue that their client, who was 26 years old and three years out of the academy, was merely following superiors’ orders when he hid a jail inmate who was prepared to testify about alleged jail abuse.

The inmate was reportedly helping the FBI investigate alleged brutality by deputies in the jails.

Tanaka said he knew about efforts to hide the inmate but believed that the Sheriff’s Department had a duty to protect the man while it investigated his claims that he was an FBI informant and that a sheriff’s deputy had smuggled contraband into jail.

“It’s not something I ordered, but it’s not something I disagreed with,” Tanaka told the Daily News.

Of the 21 sheriff’s officials facing federal charges, none is ranked higher than lieutenant. All but one have pleaded not guilty.

Lee Baca, who was sheriff at the time, said through a spokesman that he is not under federal investigation, to his knowledge.

Tanaka, who is retired, is running for sheriff against six other candidates, with the primary election set for June 3.


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