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September 28
1987 - Slender-horned spineflower listed in Federal Register as endangered species [story] Slender-horned spineflower


| Friday, Jan 17, 2020
Lee Baca, former L.A. County Sheriff, must begin serving a three-year prison sentence on March 1, 2020.
Lee Baca, former L.A. County Sheriff, must begin serving a three-year prison sentence on March 1, 2020.

 

LOS ANGELES – Nearly three years after his conviction on federal obstruction charges, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was ordered to begin serving his three-year prison sentence after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take his appeal.

Leroy “Lee” Baca, 77, served as the top-ranking elected law enforcement official in LA County from 1998 until his fourth term starting in 2010. He was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in the next three weeks.

In 2017, a jury convicted Baca for orchestrating a scheme to interfere in a federal investigation into widespread abuse of inmates by officers at the LA County Jail.

Baca’s downfall began with a smuggled cellphone hidden in a Doritos bag at the county jail.

In 2011, jailers discovered the phone in the belongings of Anthony Brown, an inmate-informant who was enlisted to work with the FBI looking into the abuse claims.

Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka carried out a series of maneuvers over the course of six weeks in August and September 2011 to hide Brown within the jail system. Codenamed Operation Pandora’s Box, sheriff’s officials moved Brown – a convicted bank robber – into a different jail under an alias to keep him out of reach of FBI agents.

The FBI’s investigation into the Men’s Central Jail and the Twin Towards Correction Facility stalled as sheriff’s officials tried to keep Brown from testifying before a grand jury. An FBI agent was threatened at her home by Baca’s officers and deputies also sought a warrant to search the FBI’s Los Angeles offices, but a superior court judge said neither the court nor Baca’s department had the authority for such a search.

Baca’s attorney Nathan Hochman framed Baca’s conduct as the furious reaction of an experienced official who knew only too well the dangers of allowing a cellphone into his jails. Though the FBI said it only wanted Brown to use the phone to report to FBI agent Leah Marx, Hochman said it was far from benign. The concern for Baca was that any cellphone could be used to plan a drug deal or even a hit on another inmate.

While prosecutors argued Baca was at the head of Operation Pandora’s Box, the sheriff continued to maintain publicly that he was displeased that federal agents smuggled a phone into his jail system.

At his first federal trial in 2016, Baca was nearly acquitted save one juror.

During the retrial, U.S. Attorney Lizabeth Rhodes said phone records, emails, documents and witness testimony from convicted officers showed that while Baca had placed Tanaka in charge, he had called the shots.

Jurors in that case listened to testimony about deputy-on-inmate violence at the Men’s Central Jail, including a marauding gang of deputies on the 3000 floor who brutally beat inmates and then covered up the abuses.

After two days of deliberations, the jury found Baca guilty of obstruction – adding his conviction to the list of nine deputies, commanders and Tanaka who had been convicted in the scheme.

Baca lost in his appeal to the Ninth Circuit this past April; his requests for rehearing were denied. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Baca’s appeal.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson ordered Baca to begin serving a three-year prison term on or before Feb. 5. Anderson wrote that Baca’s “convictions are now final. There is no basis for defendant to continue to remain on bond.”

An email to Baca’s attorney for comment was not immediately answered.

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SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Monday, Sep 28, 2020
Monday, Sep 28, 2020
‘Martindale’ Brush Fire in Bouquet Canyon, Visible from SCV, Threatens Strctures
Smoke from a brush fire dubbed the Martindale Fire in Bouquet Canyon near the Bouquet Reservoir was visible from areas in the Santa Clarita Valley shortly after the blaze broke out Monday afternoon, quickly burning 200 acres and threatening structures.
Monday, Sep 28, 2020
World Marks Grim Milestone: 1 Million COVID-19 Deaths
The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed 1 million Monday afternoon, a grim milestone in a pandemic that caught much of the world unprepared for a health crisis and left economies reeling, convulsed politics and fundamentally altered the world.
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Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
Smoke from a brush fire dubbed the Martindale Fire in Bouquet Canyon near the Bouquet Reservoir was visible from areas in the Santa Clarita Valley shortly after the blaze broke out Monday afternoon, quickly burning 200 acres and threatening structures.
‘Martindale’ Brush Fire in Bouquet Canyon, Visible from SCV, Threatens Strctures
The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed 1 million Monday afternoon, a grim milestone in a pandemic that caught much of the world unprepared for a health crisis and left economies reeling, convulsed politics and fundamentally altered the world.
World Marks Grim Milestone: 1 Million COVID-19 Deaths
SCV Water invites the community to a virtual ribbon-cutting on Monday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m., celebrating the completion of a new water treatment plant.
Oct. 5: SCV Water Treatment Plant Virtual Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Newhall resident Daniel Bradley, a Vietnam veteran and Gold Star son, had the chance to fly to Washington, D.C., to attend a reception at the White House Sunday to honor Gold Star families and their loved ones who’ve died in service.
Daniel Bradley of Newhall Honored as Gold Star Son at White House
The city of Santa Clarita’s Film Office reports a busy slate of production activity in the Santa Clarita Valley this week, September 28-October 4.
Busy Slate of Productions This Week in SCV
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has extended the current extreme heat warning for the Santa Clarita Valley through Saturday evening.
SCV Extreme Heat Warning Extended Through Saturday
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce on Monday announced the launch of a forum for small business owners -- the Small Business Roundtable.
SCV Chamber to Launch Monthly Roundtable for Small Business Owners
Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, advocating for the thousands of constituents still in the queue waiting for their unemployment benefits, is urging Governor Gavin Newsom to rethink a two-week pause on new EDD claims.
Unemployment: Wilk Urges Governor to Hit ‘Start,’ Not ‘Pause’ on EDD
William S. Hart Union High School District officials announced Sunday Santa Clarita Valley public junior highs and high schools will not reopen in October, pushing the potential timeline for partial reopening to Nov. 13.
Hart District Won’t Reopen Schools in October
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a series of bills into law Saturday, strengthening protections for LGBTQ+ Californians.
Newsom Signs Bills Strengthening LGBTQ+ Protections
California Governor Gavin Newsom took action Sunday on several bills that continue the state’s long-standing leadership as a state of inclusion and refuge.
Newsom Acts on Bills to Support California’s Immigrant, Refugee Communities
1987 - Slender-horned spineflower listed in Federal Register as endangered species [story] Slender-horned spineflower
2014 - Towsley Canyon Loop Trail named for naturalist Don Mullally [story]
Don Mullally
1876 - California oil industry born as CSO No. 4 in Pico Canyon becomes state's first commercially productive oil well [story]
Pico No. 4
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Friday 34 new deaths and 1,401 new cases of COVID-19, with 6,048 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley, while Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported its 24th COVID-related death to date.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 24th Death at Henry Mayo; SCV Surpasses 6,000 Total Cases
Air quality in the Santa Clarita Valley will be unhealthy for sensitive groups/individuals Saturday, Sept. 26, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) forecast.
Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
With temperatures in parts of Los Angeles County expected to rise into the triple digits, various public facilities located throughout the County, including Stevenson Ranch Library, will serve as Emergency Cooling Centers.
Stevenson Ranch Library to Serve as Emergency Cooling Center
The 2020 census is underway and it is your civic duty to participate, but beware of scammers using this opportunity to steal your personal information.
Residents Warned of 2020 Census Scam
The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission will hold a virtual study session via Zoom, Thursday, Oct 1, at 4:00 p.m.
Oct. 1: Parks, Recreation & Community Services Commission Study Session
Foster youth in Santa Clarita have a new, dedicated place to study and receive homework help and tutoring. The local Fostering Youth Independence (FYI) organization has created The Study Place in response to the transition to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
FYI Debuts New ‘Study Place’ for Local Foster Youth to Support Online Learning
As part of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s Education to End Hate initiative, California school districts and charter schools have begun applying for mini-grants now available to support educator training in the areas of anti-racism and bias.
Thurmond Announces Mini Grants Available to Provide Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias Educator Training
A crash involving multiple motorcycles Friday afternoon prompted a SigAlert on the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 in the Stevenson Ranch area, according to first responders.
Multi-Motorycle Crash Prompts SigAlert on SB I-5
With the 2020 SCV Walk to End Alzheimer’s quickly approaching on Saturday, October 3, the planning committee and the California Southland Chapter Alzheimer’s Association would like to update everyone regarding the Walk Day events.
Oct. 3: 2020 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Presents Hybrid Event, Drive-By ‘Promise Flower’ Display
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