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Lee Baca will not remain free on bond


An appeals court this week rejected former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca’s bid to remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction for conspiring to derail an FBI probe into corruption in the jail system.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Baca’s lawyers did not show enough evidence that Baca was not simply attempting to delay turning himself in to start serving his three-year prison sentence. The panel sent the case back to the trial judge in Los Angeles federal court to rule on new evidence Baca’s attorneys are expected to present to bolster the bond request.

“The Ninth Circuit has denied without prejudice Sheriff Baca’s bail pending an appeal motion, giving him the chance to show that his bail request is not for the purpose of delay,” defense attorney Nathan Hochman said. “We intend to provide the district court with ample and compelling evidence to prove this point as expeditiously as possible.”

Baca, 75, was sentenced in May for his conviction on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

In a nine-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found in July that Baca had “failed to raise a substantial question likely to result in reversal or new trial.”

Hochman said he plans to present evidence to show that a reversal is warranted based on judicial error, and Baca should remain free while those issues are explored.

The lawyer said Anderson erred in barring jurors from hearing evidence of Baca’s “cooperation” with both the federal probe and an independent county review board, and that the panel should have heard about the ex-sheriff’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Hochman also said that the use of an anonymous jury in Baca’s trial was a mistake that could result in a finding for a new trial.