LOS ANGELES – A judge Friday shaved 10 months off a two-year federal prison sentence for an ex-Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and later helped convict former Sheriff Lee Baca of corruption charges.
Mickey Manzo, 37, was among seven former Sheriff’s Department officials convicted in 2014 of attempting to block a federal probe into civil rights abuses at county jails. He then testified for the prosecution against his former boss in two trials, resulting in Baca’s conviction in March on three felony counts.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson granted the government’s motion to reduce the 24-month sentence originally handed down in 2014 for Manzo, ordering him to spend 14 months behind bars — two months less than term recommended by prosecutors based on the defendant’s cooperation and testimony.
Manzo’s lawyer, Matthew J. Lombard, unsuccessfully argued for a probationary sentence in a halfway house.
In a three-page letter to the judge, Manzo — who worked as a rookie jail guard in August 2011 when the offenses took place — wrote that the FBI jails probe was “warranted” and Los Angeles County residents “deserved to see the true unobstructed results of the investigation.”
However, due to “my actions, and the actions of others, the true results will never be known and for that I am sorry,” Manzo wrote.
The ex-deputy, who was fired from the department following his conviction, said that as a result of his legal problems, he got divorced, lost his house and retirement, and now works for near-minimum wage at Home Depot.
“As I write this, I can feel the hypocrisy,” he wrote. “I am complaining about everything that I have lost, when I have lost more that some people will ever have, and even in my current position in life, there are people out there who would trade places with me in a heartbeat. Not to mention that it was my choices that have led me to where I am. But losing all that I have, has taken a mental toll on me. I have never felt more worthless than I have over the past three years.”
Anderson set June 2 as Manzo’s prison reporting date.
During Baca’s two trials, prosecutors used Manzo to show that the ex-sheriff lied under oath when telling prosecutors during an April 2013 interview that he had no knowledge of efforts to subvert the FBI probe into corruption and inmate abuse in the jail system he ran.
Manzo testified that, under orders from Baca, deputies kept inmate-turned-informant Anthony Brown out of reach of federal investigators after sheriff’s officials discovered Brown with a cell phone that had been smuggled in by FBI agents as part of a previously secret undercover sting.
Manzo testified that Baca gave directions to subordinates to keep the inmate/informant “protected,” and placed a captain in charge of the LASD probe — which would be “run through” then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka during a six-week period in the summer of 2011.
Baca, 74, was sentenced May 12 to three years in prison for overseeing the scheme to derail the federal jails probe and lying to the FBI. He was given until July 25 to put his affairs in order before turning himself in at a federal prison in either Kern County or Oregon.
Baca’s attorneys have vowed to appeal and Anderson will decide whether the ex-sheriff — who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease — may remain free pending arguments before an appeals panel.
In a related case, former Sheriff’s Department Captain William “Tom” Carey faces sentencing Monday after pleading guilty two years ago to a felony count of making false statements. Carey, who also testified against Baca, admitted to lying during his testimony at the 2014 trial of a second rookie sheriff’s deputy who was ultimately found guilty of obstruction charges.
Prosecutors have recommended that Anderson sentence Carey to 10 months behind bars, noting his cooperation and testimony.
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