aca cut a deal with prosecutors early this year that would have sent him to prison for six months to atone for covering up extensive abuse of force and civil rights violations by his deputies. He was not accused of participating directly in the beatings and smuggling operation uncovered by the FBI, but allegedly gave his blessing to his deputies’ plan to personally intimidate an investigator and then lied about doing so.But in July, a judge rejected the plea bargain as too soft on Baca, who ran the nation’s largest sheriff’s department for 16 years. The decision left Baca to choose between letting the same judge decide his sentence on a charge with a maximum sentence of five years, or walking away from the table and going before a jury.By rescinding his earlier plea on charges he lied to investigators, the former sheriff gives prosecutors a chance to bring new, broader charges with much higher potential prison time.
Southern Poverty Law Center
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