LOS ANGELES (CNS/FOX 11) - Former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, the current mayor of Gardena, and former sheriff's Capt. Tom Carey have been indicted on obstruction of justice charges and have both surrendered to authorities Thursday morning.
Their indictments are expected to be reported at a news conference that the U.S. Attorney's Officer and the FBI have scheduled in downtown L.A. starting at 9 a.m. to "announce developments in a high-profile investigation into official misconduct." The speakers will include U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura and FBI Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich.
Tanaka and Carey are the eighth and ninth sheriff's department officials to face criminal charges stemming from actions taken in August, 2011 when inmate-turned-FBI informant Anthony Brown was hidden from his FBI handlers.
Brown was booked and re-booked under a series of false names and eventually told the FBI had abandoned him. Six former sheriff's department officials -- two lieutenants, two sergeants and two deputies -- were convicted in 2014 for their roles in the cover-up. They received sentences ranging from 21 to 41 months.
Stephen Leavins, Gregory Thompson, Scott Craig, Maricela Long, Mickey Manzo and Gerard Smith "endeavored to obstruct justice in a misguided attempt" to protect the sheriff's department from outside scrutiny, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said before sentencing them.
"Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences," Anderson told the defendants.
All claimed they had been following orders in assisting a legitimate investigation into how and why a cell phone had been smuggled into a jail. But Anderson said an "us-versus-them" mentality had been inculcated into them and into jailers and internal investigators alike.
The FBI was investigating claims of excessive force against inmates by sheriff's department jailers and had intended to have Brown testify to this before a grand jury.
Former deputy James Sexton was separately sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for trying to obstruct the federal probe. Tanaka, the mayor of Gardena since 2005, announced his retirement from the sheriff's department in March 2013. He then ran for the job of sheriff but was defeated decisively by Jim McDonnell, the former police chief in Long Beach.