04:51 GMT20 January 2021
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    A California federal judge on Monday rejected a plea agreement for former LA County sheriff Lee Baca, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to making a false statement in connection with a federal investigation into civil rights abuses and corruption inside county jails.

    Baca made his false statements to FBI agents and US attorneys in April 2013. During a voluntary interview he said that he was not aware that his department had tried to block the federal inquiry.

    Later Baca admitted that he knew his statement was untrue, and acknowledged that he was aware that it is illegal to lie to federal authorities.

    As part of the plea agreement he reached with the FBI, Baca was facing up to a six-month federal prison sentence. His attorney, Michael Zweiback, pushed for no prison time, after Baca learned that he is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The attorney argued that in jail Baca would be vulnerable and unable to get proper medical attention.

    "He has a window of time, and that window of time is closing," Zweiback told reporters.

    ​In the open court Baca apologized for his actions, saying that he failed to be a leader and that he felt remorse for mistakes he made as a sheriff in Los Angeles County.

    However, District Court Judge Percy Anderson decided that six months behind bars and an apology is not a reasonable punishment for making a false statement, and that the deal "would trivialize the seriousness of the offenses."

    Zweiback told reporters he would rather go to trial than leave sentencing in Anderson's hands. He added that this was the first time in over 25 years that he's ever had a plea agreement overridden.

    Baca will return to court for a new hearing on August 1.


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