Eighteen sheriff’s deputies have been arrested in an LA County Jail Probe for corruption and civil rights abuses. The allegations against the deputies also include beating inmates and visitors but, more seriously, trying to block an FBI probe in the prison.
The scandal is a serious one and charges were announced in a news conference on Monday following the arrest of the 18 defendants, two of whom no longer work for the prison authority.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said about the LA County jail probe:
“These incidents did not take place in a vacuum — in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized. The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law.”
The accusations go further and suggest that sheriff’s deputies plotted to delay the FBI by moving an informant in the jails and intimidating an FBI agent. Perhaps the worst of it is that, for some reason, deputies apparently physically abused visitors to the jail, including the use of choking, kicking and pepper spray.
Some of the allegations agains the arrested sheriff’s deputies almost seem outlandish. The grand jury indictments allege that deputies handcuffed the Austrian consul general during his visit to one of the prisoners in the jailhouse.
In another, they grabbed a visitor by the neck, forcing his head into a fridge. Furthermore, the criminal complaint includes allegations by inmates that they were pepper sprayed, abused and kicked for no good reason.
The LA County jail probe by the FBI has been underway for at least three years. Among the accused are two high ranking lieutenants, two sergeants and three deputies. Some of the allegations against them include accepting bribes from inmates in exchange for mobile phones.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of the FBI investigation will reveal when the details of the case are brought before a jury and judge. It also remains to be seen what punishment the 18 sheriff’s deputies who were arrested will receive following the LA County jail probe.