Federal prosecutors will retry former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca after a mistrial in which a jury nearly cleared him of obstructing an FBI investigation into the county’s jails, reports the Los Angeles Times. A judge granted a request by the U.S. Attorney’s office to allow prosecutors to include the charge of making false statements to federal authorities in the retrial. U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson previously split that charge from the obstruction and conspiracy charges Baca faced at trial last month.
The retrial is scheduled to begin Feb. 21. Although it offered only a momentary reprieve for Baca, the verdict dealt a setback for U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker and the prosecutors from her office’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section that pursued the 74-year-old former sheriff. Before leveling charges against Baca, prosecutor Brandon Fox, who heads the anti-corruption unit, had methodically worked his way through the group of rank-and-file deputies and supervisors who were accused of having roles in the obstruction effort. Nine people have been convicted or pleaded guilty, including former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who ran much of the sprawling agency’s day-to-day operations and was accused of spearheading the campaign to derail the FBI jail investigation.