Six members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were convicted today of obstructing a federal probe into violence against inmates in county jails.
After a week of deliberations, a federal court jury in downtown Los Angeles convicted Lts. Stephen Leavins and Gregory Thompson, Sgts. Scott Craig and Maricela Long, and Deputies Gerard Smith and Mickey Manzo of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Those charges together carry a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Craig and Long were also convicted of an additional count of making false statements for telling an FBI agent involved in the jails probe that she was under investigation and could face arrest. That charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to five years.
Prosecutors said the defendants conspired to transfer and rebook a federal informant in the jail to hide him from his FBI handlers when agents wanted to put him in front of a grand jury to testify about allegations of excessive force against inmates.
Defense attorneys countered that the defendants were simply following orders from superiors.
--City News Service