Los Angeles County Jail in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles County Jail in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

An ex-Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was found guilty Tuesday of attempting to impede a federal probe into deputy-on-inmate violence in county jails.

After nearly three hours of deliberations, jurors convicted James Sexton, 29, of federal conspiracy and obstruction-of-justice charges. His first trial ended in May with a 6-6 deadlock.

The case hinged on whether Sexton tried to impede justice by using the jailhouse computer system to falsify or omit identifying characteristics of an inmate working as an FBI informant, in effect “hiding” the inmate during a two-week period in August 2011 when federal officials wanted to interview the inmate.

A message to Sexton’s attorney was not immediately returned.

Jurors determined that Sexton covertly worked to block the jails investigation, rejecting the defense argument that the deputy was merely following lawful orders from higher-ups to keep the informant safe from deputies and other inmates.

As he did in Sexton’s first trial, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka testified that while he didn’t give the order to change inmate Anthony Brown’s name or booking number, he didn’t object. Tanaka also said that he was kept fully apprised of Brown’s status.

Sexton did not testify at either trial, but jurors heard his own words in read-backs of testimony he gave to a grand jury investigating allegations of jailhouse corruption.

The former deputy faces up to 15 years in federal prison at sentencing Dec. 1.

Six co-defendants — all ex-deputies — were convicted in a separate trial in July of conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges for working to conceal Brown from the informant’s FBI handlers. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.

Thirteen other deputies charged in the jailhouse corruption probe in February are awaiting trial.

City News Service

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