LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two Los Angeles County Supervisors warned Tuesday of more to come in the FBI’s corruption probe into the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte announced sweeping indictments Tuesday against 18 sworn law enforcement officers at the sheriff’s department, including allegations of assault, conspiracy to obstruct justice and fraud.
Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas told KCAL9’s Randy Paige the indictments released Monday are likely just the beginning.
Two of those indicted in the probe are lieutenants responsible in part for rooting out corruption in the department.
“I don’t think this is going to stop at lieutenants. I don’t think anybody does,” Yaroslavsky said.
Supervisor Yaroslovsky pointed to an indictment that accuses two sergeants in the internal investigations bureau of going to the home of an FBI agent and falsely informing the agent, identified as ‘LM,’ “that there was going to be a warrant issued for Special Agent LM’s arrest and that the arrest warrant could be issued as soon as the next day.”
“All of these allegations could not have been – if they are true – could not have been perpetrated by a deputy or a sergeant without somebody higher up directing him to do that,” Yaroslavsky said. “Some of these things are very bold actions, like knocking on the door of an FBI agent and intimidating them.”
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said he is troubled that a county sheriff is elected rather than appointed, placing him beyond the reach of county supervisors.
“This department has essentially been left to police itself,” said Ridley Thomas. “It is probably high time that the legislature, the governor revisit this issue.”
In Monday’s press conference, U.S. Attorney Birotte said the federal investigation found the alleged abuses “did not take place in a vacuum” and demonstrated that certain behaviors “had become institutionalized” within the department.
Sheriff Lee Baca called it a “sad day” for the LASD Monday and said he welcomed the investigations. He denied that the charges suggest an institutional failure within the department.
“There is no institutional problem within the sheriff’s department,” said Baca. “Fourteen or 15 people under indictment relative to jail activity is not an institutional number.”
The supervisors say they are aware that some of those charged might provide the FBI with information leading to more arrests. The question of how high the arrests will go is unknown.
“It’s the end of the beginning, but it’s not the end,” said Yaroslavsky.