Six Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies convicted of obstructing an investigation

July 1, 2014

la sheriffSix sworn officers who were working in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department were found guilty today of obstruction of justice for interfering with a federal civil rights investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail, according to a Department of Justice press release.

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. Each defendant was convicted of participating in a broad conspiracy to obstruct justice.

In the summer of 2011, a plot was constructed after the defendants 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.

“The deputy sheriffs found guilty today participated in a scheme to thwart a federal grand jury investigation into violations of basic constitutional rights guaranteed to both prisoners and visitors to county jails,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “While an overwhelming majority of law enforcement officials serve with honor and dignity, these defendants tarnished the badge by acting on the false belief that they were above the law.”

The evidence presented at trial showed that the defendants learned that an inmate received a cellular phone from a deputy sheriff who took a bribe and that the inmate was part of a federal civil rights investigation. The deputies took affirmative steps to hide the cooperator from the FBI and the United States Marshals Service, which was attempting to bring the inmate into federal custody pursuant to an order issued by a federal judge. As part of the conspiracy, records were altered to make it appear as if the cooperator had been released, but he was re-booked under different names.

The deputies also engaged in witness tampering by attempting to influence witnesses to not cooperate with the federal grand jury investigation, including the informant and the sheriff’s deputy who had taken a bribe to smuggle the cell phone into the jail.

Over the course of several weeks, the defendants sought an order from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that would have compelled the FBI to turn over information about its investigation to LASD. After the judge refused to issue such an order, based on a lack of jurisdiction, Craig and Long confronted an FBI special agent at her residence in an attempt to intimidate her into providing details about the investigation and to try to deter the FBI from conducting the federal investigation. The sergeants falsely told the special agent, and later her supervisor, that they were obtaining a warrant for her arrest.

In addition to the conspiracy count, all six deputies were convicted of obstruction of justice offenses. Craig and Long were also found guilty of making false statements to the FBI agent and to her supervisor about seeking a warrant for her arrest.

As a result of today’s convictions, all six defendants face statutory maximum sentences of 15 years in federal prison (with Craig and Long facing another potential five years for the false statements charges).

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on September 8 by United States District Judge Percy Anderson.

Thompson is retired. The rest of the defendants, according to the Sheriff’s Department, were relieved of duty without pay in December 2013.

The defendants convicted today are:
• Gregory Thompson, 54, a now-retired lieutenant who oversaw LASD’s Operation Safe Jails Program;
• Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, 52, who was assigned to the LASD’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.

“Law enforcement at all levels must work together to arrive at justice and to safeguard the civil rights of all the people we serve,” said Bill L. Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Today’s verdict is another step toward ending a period of corruption at the Men’s Central Jail for the good of the public, as well as the employees of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who have continued to serve with distinction while enduring this temporary stain on the department’s reputation.”


12 Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    I couldn’t help but notice how these cowards went to a “woman’s” home and intimidated her. Threatening her with an arrest warrant was like threatening to kidnap her as she knew that she had done nothing illegal and she would have known what they were up to. She must have been horrified.

    What’s sad is that it took the FBI to put a stop to these 6 renegades rather than the LASD dealing with their own and protecting the citizens from these rogue LE. I find it hard to believe that the LASD didn’t know about these guys long before the FBI did. But on the other hand, maybe it was the SD that called in the FBI to conduct the investigation, I sure hope so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. NorthCountyGuy says:

    Reminds me of the runaway corruption in the Paso Robles Police Dept.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. fishing village says:

    This is as it should be!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  4. OnTheOtherHand says:

    Now this is what the FBI should be doing with their resources — not spying on every citizen in hopes that they can find a few criminal needles in the haystack of electronic communications.
    “Good job” to this investigative team and my respect for not caving in to the attempted intimidation under dangerous circumstances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  5. Jon Tatro says:

    As a retired cop it makes me happy as hell to see dirty cops go to jail. I hope they get a very special treatment in jail. We are given a public trust as an officer and it is that trust which gives us authority not the badge or the gun.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 0

    • LameCommenter says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating Click here to see.

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 42

      • Jon Tatro says:

        WTF,are you talking about Lame. This is an article about dirty cops not Harley’s

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2

        • LameCommenter says:

          You’re quite right, J.T. But my off topic rant purpose is simple.

          Dirty cops never impact my family’s world. OTOH, Sociopathic human garbage shakes the sleep and peace of my home, grandkids everywhere, almost non-stop many events each day and night, on a sunny Sunday, many events each HOUR. Surveys show people hate the f–ing loud bikes.

          Guess who permits this destruction of peace and quiet? Complicit or lazy bad cops and LE supervisors, many of whom ride a thunderous pipe themselves. Your beef as a professional and ethical law enforcement officer was dirty cops. You have every right to feel this way and to take joy in the conviction of the rare bad cop.

          I have every right to want my home not f—-ing !^&$^& shaken without purpose except the vanity of the child/man who thinks the noise of his machine makes his manhood more impressive. I pay ten grand a year in local property taxes and I blame lazy complicit cops for the penetration of my home.

          So I thought I’d go off topic and toss the problem out there again. Maybe I will try and remain more on thread topic in the future.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 23

          • slowtime says:

            Lame.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

          • standup says:

            Local dirty cops did in fact impact my world. Starting with Rodney John and his defunct narcotic task force who arrested my wife- and I all for nothing. No charges, nada. One of the lead investigators is now in Lompoc pen. for extortion and bribery. Just about every one of the NYF think they are above the law.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

    • Jorge Estrada says:

      The retired Lieutenant should be retro-activily penalized, thence no paycheck until justice is served. As for rights in jail???, punishment should not be better treatment than the victims received. A bad place to be should always be a place to avoid.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Old Salt says:

    That female FBI Agent is lucky they didn’t “off” her…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

Leave a Comment