LOS ANGELES – A nine-month prison term was handed down Monday for a retired sheriff’s captain who lied on the witness stand during the corruption trial of a former colleague, but later became a key government witness in the retrial of ex-Sheriff Lee Baca.
William “Tom” Carey, 58, must also complete one year of supervised release after he gets out of prison, and was fined $3,000.
Carey pleaded guilty in August 2015 to making false statements during the trial of former Deputy James Sexton, who was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment — later reduced to five months already served — for trying to obstruct a federal investigation of the county jail system.
Carey faced a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison, but prosecutors had recommended a 10-month sentence due to his “substantial” assistance and testimony during Baca’s retrial.
Prosecutors wrote that the two days Carey spent on the witness stand in March amounted to “one of the key differences” between Baca’s first trial — which ended in a deadlock — and the second, in which the retired sheriff was found guilty of three felony counts.
Carey’s attorney asked that U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson sentence his client to not more than five months in prison, followed by a five-month period of home confinement.
Carey and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka were charged in May 2015 with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. Carey was also charged with two counts of lying on the witness stand at the trials of colleagues.
As head of the department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, Carey was tasked to root out corruption among deputies working in the jail system. Instead, he became part of a conspiracy to derail the FBI probe into allegations of deputy brutality against inmates.
Carey and other defendants claimed they had been following orders from Baca and Tanaka and believed they were assisting a legitimate investigation into how and why a cell phone had been smuggled by the FBI to a jail inmate- turned-informant.
Baca, 74, was sentenced on May 12 to three years in prison for overseeing the scheme to derail the 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.
Tanaka, 59, was convicted of conspiracy and obstructing the FBI investigation and sentenced a year ago to five years in federal prison.
A total of 21 ex-sheriff’s department employees have been convicted in the probe.
Previous related stories: