back to top

Former L.A. Sheriff Officials Accused Of Obstructing Corruption Investigation

Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and former Captain William "Tom" Carey, who used to head internal investigations, surrendered Thursday after being indicted on charges of obstructing an FBI investigation into the abuses inside L.A. County jails.

Posted on

The former second in command of the embattled Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, or LASD, surrendered to the FBI Thursday morning after a federal grand jury indicted him on obstruction of justice charges.

Paul Tanaka, who ran an unsuccessful bid for sheriff in 2014, is named in a five-count indictment for allegedly obstructing an investigation into abuse inside the county's jails, according to the indictment filed Wednesday.

William "Tom" Carey, a captain who headed the department's internal criminal investigations bureau, was also indicted and turned himself in to federal authorities Thursday.

The two retired deputies are accused of overseeing the department's attempt to thwart the FBI's investigation into brutality inside the county's jails that's resulted in various charges against 21 people who worked for the LASD. The investigation also led to the 2014 resignation of former Sheriff Lee Baca after his 48-year record with the agency was tarnished by back-to-back scandals.

"The allegations in the indictment include cover-ups, diversionary tactics, retribution and a culture generally reserved for Hollywood scripts," David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office said in a statement. "The public held the defendants to the highest standard, but, instead, they spent their time and energy setting a tone which minimized the value of their oath and dishonored the badge they wore."

Tanaka's attorney H. Dean Steward did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In August 2011 deputies determined that an inmate at Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail was an informant for the FBI after they recovered a cell phone that was linked to federal agents.

Deputies, allegedly guided by Tanaka and Carey, tried to hide the inmate from the FBI and U.S. marshals who were trying to bring him to testify before a federal grand jury.

Deputies are accused of altering records to make it seem as if the informant was released and they then re-booked him under a different name before moving him to a number of secure locations. The informant was told he had been abandoned by the FBI.

The former sheriff's officials are accused of seeking an order from a judge that would've forced the FBI to turn over information about its investigation to the department. The judge refused to issue the order.

Tanaka and Carey are also accused of ordering two sergeants to approach the lead FBI investigator at her home and intimidate her. The deputies threatened the agent with arrest and reiterated the threat to her supervisor. The pair also allegedly told other deputies not to cooperate in the probe.

They're both named in one count of conspiracy to obstruction of justice. Tanaka and Carey each face one charge of obstruction of justice.

Carey is also charged with two counts of giving false testimony in 2014 when he testified in a case against co-conspirators.

The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charges is five years in federal prison. The obstruction charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years. The two alleged false declarations against Carey carry a potential penalty of five years.

Tanaka and Carey are expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.

Contact Adolfo Flores at adolfo.flores@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.