Five Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials implicated in a wide-ranging federal probe of alleged abuses inside county jails pleaded not guilty on Monday to conspiracy and obstruction-of-justice charges.
Lt. Gregory Thompson, Deputy Gerard Smith, Sgt. Scott Craig, Deputy James Sexton and Sgt. Maricella Long all entered not-guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson.
The five are charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice for what federal prosecutors described as an elaborate effort to interfere with an FBI probe of activities inside county jails.
They are among 18 current and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were arrested on suspicion of civil rights and corruption violations.
The arrests stem from a two-year federal probe into corruption and inmate abuse within the Los Angeles County jail system, the United States Attorney's Office said in a press release.
The deputies, most of whom were active on the department but none of whom are above the rank of lieutenant, were either arrested without incident or surrendered Monday to FBI agents.
The deputies are alleged to have committed crimes including use of force under color of authority and obstruction of justice.
The news prompted a Los Angeles County supervisor to call for more oversight of the Sheriff's Department.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said that the county must take a greater oversight while his colleague, Gloria Molina, said she has lost confidence in Sheriff Lee Baca.