LA jail scandal: 6 employees on trial in federal court

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Opening statements are expected Tuesday in the trial of six current and former L.A. County Sheriff's Department employees accused of trying to obstruct a federal investigation into corruption in L.A.'s jails.

Gregory Thompson, Stephen Leavins, Gerard Smith, Mickey Manzo, Scott Craig, and Maricella Long are all accused of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in an alleged plot to hide a jail inmate working as an FBI informant and intimidate an FBI agent by threatening her arrest.

The trail of James Sexton, also accused in the case, concluded Thursday with a hung jury

Charges in the cases stem back to 2011, when deputies working in Men's Central Jail discovered a cell phone belonging to an inmate named Anthony Brown. Brown at the time was working as an informant for the FBI and deputies traced the numbers on his phone and calls made via the jail's phone system to the FBI's civil rights division.

Soon after, the group started moving Brown from jail to jail under fake names, and not permitting his FBI handlers access. They also ignored a federal court order to produce Brown for testimony, prosecutors say.

As "phase two" of the operation to thwart the FBI investigation, prosecutors say Long and Craig showed up at the home of FBI Special Agent Leah Marx, the lead investigator on the jail corruption probe, and threatened to arrest her for helping bring a cell phone into the jail.

Defense attorneys in Sexton's case argued the group was following orders from higher level officials in the department--and that hiding Brown and confronting Marx was part of a legitimate investigation into jail contraband. 

Jurors in that case split six to six on whether or not to convict Sexton.

Attorneys for the remaining defendants lined the courtroom during Sexton's trial, seeking insight into the government's case. 

Attorneys in Sexton's case have no yet said whether he'll face a second trial.

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