Former LA County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka sentenced to 5 years in prison for Obstucting FBI Investigation
“Paul Tanaka, once one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in Los Angeles County, was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for interfering with an FBI investigation into jail abuses by sheriff’s deputies.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson rejected Tanaka’s defense arguments that the former L.A. County undersheriff was unfairly scapegoated and knew little of what was unfolding around him.
“Not only did he fail to identify and address problems in the jails, he exacerbated them,” the judge said of Tanaka.
A jury in April convicted Tanaka of obstructing the federal probe and conspiring with others to intimidate the lead agent in the case, pressure deputies not to cooperate and conceal the whereabouts of an inmate who was working as a federal informant.”
….More @ KTLA
Paul Tanaka Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Obstructing Federal Investigation into Misconduct at County Jails
“LOS ANGELES – Paul Tanaka, who was the second in command of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison for his conviction on obstruction of justice charges stemming from him leading the LASD’s efforts to derail a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations by sheriff’s deputies at two downtown jail complexes.
While he was the assistant sheriff in charge of the jails, Tanaka “perpetrated an environment of excessive deputy conduct,” according to Judge Anderson, who said Tanaka’s actions led directly to an increased number of use-of-force incidents against inmates at the jails. The obstruction of justice scheme was designed “to derail the federal grand jury investigation” and constituted “a gross abuse of the public trust.”
“Paul Tanaka supervised a scheme to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into corruption and civil rights violations at the jails,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mr. Tanaka was the ringleader and the driving force behind a plot that concealed an FBI informant, tampered with witnesses and led to the threatened arrest of an FBI agent for doing nothing more than her job. In addition to being a top law enforcement officer who was personally involved in the obstruction of justice, Mr. Tanaka was responsible for a culture that unfortunately led to the widespread abuse of inmates at the jails that he personally oversaw.”
The scheme to disrupt the federal investigation started in August 2011 when deputies recovered a mobile phone from an inmate in MCJ, linked the phone to the FBI, and determined that the inmate was an informant in the FBI’s corruption and civil rights investigation. The phone was given to the inmate as part of an undercover investigation by a corrupt deputy, who subsequently pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge and was recently sentenced to federal prison.
In response to the federal investigation, members of the Tanaka-led conspiracy took steps to hide the cooperator from the FBI and the United States Marshals Service, which was attempting to bring the inmate to testify before a federal grand jury. The evidence presented during Tanaka’s trial showed that the deputies altered records to make it appear that the cooperator had been released from jail, when in fact he had been re-booked into custody under a fake name and moved to an LASD patrol station. Members of the conspiracy prohibited FBI access to the informant, and then told the cooperator that he had been abandoned by the FBI.”
…Continue reading @ US Dept of Justice – Central District of California
– Essentially, Mr. Tanaka was running his own private Gulag of torture and intimidation within Los Angeles County, behaving like a third world dictator while threatening Federal government agents./CJ
More here on Tanaka’s intimidation and threats to an FBI agent:
ABOVE THE LAW – The Verdict and the Jury
According to several jurors we spoke with, there was a list of things that tipped the scales early for the panel.
Among the most potent pieces of evidence, said juror Theresa Cisneros, was an audio recording of a call involving former LASD sergeants, Maricela Long and Scott Craig, who were the two department members that cornered FBI special agent Leah Marx outside her apartment. (Marx is now Leah Tanner, as the FBI agent recently got married.)
The audio is of a recording made by Long and Craig of a phone call they received from Marx’s boss at the FBI after the agent reported her encounter with the two sergeants who told her that a warrant was being sworn out for her arrest.
When he called, the boss got Long on the phone and he asked her if there was really a warrant and, if so, when it would be sworn out.
“It could be tomorrow, sir,” Long replied. “You’re going to have to talk to the undersheriff.”
Long repeated the instruction to call the undersheriff then, after ringing off, she clearly did not realize that she was still recording, so chuckled and said, “They’re scared! They’re like, do you know when– is the warrant….”
“You’re still rolling,” Craig warned her, and the recording ends there.
The jurors said they were similarly disturbed by the video taken by investigators from the department’s internal criminal investigative bureau (ICIB) of Marx being accosted by Long and Craig.
“It was bullying,” said Cisneros and juror Belinda Becerra of the encounter. “They are the law and they thought they could act above the law.”
…Read more @ WitnessLA.com
Paul Tanaka Grilled About His Ties to White Supremicist Lynwood Viking’s LA Deputy Gang
“Paul Tanaka faced a punishing cross-examination Monday as he fights corruption charges that could send him to federal prison for up to 15 years.
Prosecutor Brandon Fox grilled Tanaka about his membership in a notorious deputy gang or “clique” known as the Lynwood Vikings.
“It was nothing more than a station mascot,” Tanaka told the jury, adding that there was nothing “sinister” about the Vikings back when he joined the group as a sergeant at the Sheriff Department’s Lynwood station in the late 1980’s.
“Just because you’re trying to make it evil, doesn’t make it evil,” Tanaka testified.
Fox asked Tanaka if he was aware of the 1991 federal civil rights lawsuit that determined the Lynwood Vikings were a “deputy gang.”
In that lawsuit, the judge actually determined that the Vikings were a “neo-nazi, white supremacist gang” that used “terrorist-type tactics” against black and Hispanic residents in the city of Lynwood.
Tanaka emphasized he was not named in that lawsuit, he’s not sure he was aware of it at the time, and hasn’t read the lawsuit to this day.
Fox asked if Tanaka, as he “proceeded up the ranks” of the department, became aware that the Vikings “engaged in acts of lawlessness,” and did he still have his Viking tattoo?
“I still have the tattoo, sir,” Tanaka said.”