Los Angeles, CA – One of the great concerns of our time is how best to constrain police power. While we want law enforcement to have all the tools they need to effectively fight crime, we struggle with how best to ensure that they do not overstep their boundaries and invade people’s privacy or misuse their power for their own gain. Issues of police corruption and oversight played an important part in the trial of six current and former officers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
On Tuesday, jurors issued a guilty verdict against Lts. Stephen Leavins, 52, and Gregory Thompson, 54; Sgts. Scott Craig, 50, and Maricela Long, 46; and Deputies Gerard Smith, 42, and Mickey Manzo, 34. The six defendants were charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice after allegedly attempting to keep an FBI informant inside LA County’s jail system away from agents conducting an investigation into allegations of inmate abuse. Two of the defendants were also accused of attempting to intimidate the lead agent on the case into dropping the investigation.
The sheriff’s department first became aware of the investigation when they discovered that one of the inmates had a cell phone that had been provided by the FBI. According to prosecutors deputies then began to move the inmate around the jail system, often under false names, in an effort to keep him isolated from his handlers. The trial of a seventh deputy ended with a hung jury, and another deputy plead guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for allowing the inmate to have a cell phone.
The defense’s case largely relied on portraying the deputies as following orders from higher up in the department. While the prosecution acknowledged that several superior officers, including former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, remain under investigation, they alleged that the accused were engaging in behaviors that were illegal and against sheriff’s department regulations and procedures.
White collar crime attorney Michael Guisti reports that cases involving public corruption and police misconduct often involve breaking the public trust. We give our elected officials and law enforcement officers power with the understanding that they will use it for the betterment of society not to enrich or protect themselves. So when they are accused of breaking the law or misusing their power, we have procedures in place to investigate those claims and bring them to trial.
At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our Orange County criminal attorneys are dedicated to helping people exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves in court. In our 16 years of practicing law in Southern California we’ve helped clients fight corruption and other white collar crimes charges. We’re known for securing positive outcomes in state and federal courtrooms in Orange, LA, Ventura, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. The attorneys at our firm have the years of training and experience you’ll need to mount an aggressive defense against any criminal charge.
When you come to our firm, your case will receive individual attention from one of our highly qualified criminal defense attorneys. Our staff will be on hand to respond to your questions and concerns 24/7 and advise you of the best course of action to take in your defense. We have offices located throughout Orange County, convenient to multiple court districts and we offer foreign language services in Chinese, Korean, and other languages in order to better serve Southern California’s diverse communities.
Kim, Victoria. “Six found guilty in L.A. County jails corruption probe.” http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-six-deputies-convicted-of-obstruction-20140629-story.html. Los Angeles Times. July 1, 2014.
Marcellino, Elizabeth. “6 in Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department convicted in federal jail probe.” http://www.presstelegram.com/government-and-politics/20140701/6-in-los-angeles-county-sheriffs-department-convicted-in-federal-jail-probe. Long Beach Press Telegram. June 1, 2014.