Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Baca, who admitted lying to federal investigators during an FBI probe of corruption in the jail system, is facing a six-month jail term when he will be sentenced next month.
In a court filing released this week, assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox confirmed rumors about Baca’s health, writing that an expert on Alzheimer’s had evaluated the 74-year-old former lawman for the government and verified the diagnosis. In calling Baca a “study in contrasts” for his high professional achievements and ethical failures that led to his downfall, Fox stated that Baca is a “physically fit” man who is able to function in his daily life and urged U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson to sentence him to six months in prison.
The punishment is “appropriate after taking into account all sides of defendant Baca, including his crime, his current health and his likely prognosis,” Fox wrote.
Baca agreed to a deal with prosecutors in February in which he would agree to plead guilty to lying to Fox and other officials after a voluntary interview he gave in 2013 about his knowledge of a scheme his subordinates carried out to obstruct an FBI investigation into corruption in the County jail system. Baca told investigators that he was unaware that members of his staff and deputies were planning to approach the FBI agent leading the jail investigation at her home and threaten her with arrest.
Undersheriff Paul Tanaka was implicated in the obstruction scheme and was convicted in April. Prosecutors are expected to recommend a five-year prison term for Tanaka at his sentencing on June 27.