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Six sworn deputies from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who had been facing federal corruption charges were sentenced on Sept. 23 to federal prison terms for interfering with a federal civil rights investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail.
The six defendants received prison terms of up to 41 months from a federal judge who said they all lacked “courage to do what is right” and then failed to show “even the slightest remorse.” United States District Judge Percy Anderson issued the sentences after a federal jury determined that the defendants, including two lieutenants, attempted to influence witnesses, threatened an FBI agent with arrest and concealed an FBI informant who should have been turned over to federal authorities.
All six of the defendants were convicted of participating in a broad conspiracy to obstruct justice, a plot that began in the summer of 2011 after they learned that a jail inmate was an FBI informant and was acting as a cooperator in a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations at the jail.
“Blind obedience to a corrupt culture has serious consequences,” Anderson told the defendants before ordering each of them to begin prison sentences in the coming months.
“In their corrupt attempt to shield the Sheriff’s Department from scrutiny, these deputies brought scandal and shame to themselves and their department,” acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura said. “These deputies decided to impede a federal investigation, and in doing so they threw away their careers and their freedom. These law enforcement officers have now been held accountable for their unlawful actions.”
The defendants were identified as Gregory Thompson, 54, a now-retired lieutenant who oversaw the department’s Operation Safe Jails Program; Lt. Stephen Leavins, 52, who was assigned to the department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau; Gerard Smith, 42, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program; Mickey Manzo, 34, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program; Scott Craig, 50, a sergeant who was assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau; and Maricela Long, 46, a sergeant who was assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau.
Thompson, Craig and Leavins are no longer with the sheriff’s department. Smith is on approved leave. Manzo and Long, according to the sheriff’s department, were relieved of duty without pay last December. Following the completion of their prison sentences, each defendant will serve one year on supervised release.
“Interference with a federal investigation cannot be tolerated,” assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office Bill Lewis said. “The sentences imposed allow us to move forward toward an environment of mutual trust and the common goal of delivering justice to victims of crime. I look forward to continued collaboration with our trusted partners at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”
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