FBI arresting LA County sheriff's deputies in jail probe *

The FBI moved in this morning to start arresting current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and officials on criminal corruption and civil rights charges. U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. has scheduled a 1 p.m. news availability in the downtown federal building.

The LA Times reports that a lieutenant, a sergeant and a deputy have already been taken into custody by FBI agents "as part of a federal obstruction of justice probe into how sheriff's officials handled an FBI informant at the center of the jail investigation." More than a dozen current and former sworn officers are expected to be arrested, the Times says.

KPCC notes on its website that for a time, the Times story was accompanied by a Google political ad for former undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is running for the top job. He has been implicated, by Sheriff Lee Baca and others, in the ongoing problems of abuse and deputy malfeasance in the county's jails.

Remember in October when the media camped out at a fundraiser for Councilman Jose Huizar, seeking comment on reports about his affair with a junior staffer? Well, we know where the media trucks will be tonight. As I reported last week, Baca is holding a downtown fundraiser tonight co-hosted by former governor Gray Davis and former city attorney Carmen Trutanich. It's at Engine Company 28, which may get more TV time out of this than it has had in years.

Noon update: NBC's Andrew Blankstein says that in all 18 deputies "were either arrested without incident or were expected to surrender Monday to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation....None of those arrested ranked higher than lieutenant."

"The sources said that the deputies are alleged to have committed crimes that include use of force under color of authority and obstruction of justice. The investigation is ongoing, according to sources, but the arrests seem to culminate an investigation that included allegations that deputies tried to hide an informant who was providing information to the FBI while locked up after the deputies discovered the informant had a cell phone."

12:45 update: Sheriff Lee Baca has called a 3:30 news conference at headquarters in Monterey Park.

File photo: ZevWeb

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