Baca request to remain free pending appeal denied by court

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday denied former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca's request to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction in a high-profile obstruction of justice case.

The appellate court agreed with the district court's findings that Baca failed to demonstrate his eligibility for bail and questioned whether the purpose of his appeal is to delay his imprisonment.

Baca's attorney, Benjamin Coleman, wants to try again. Coleman asked the district court Wednesday to order a new application for bond. Baca will remain free until the matter is finally resolved.

A judge sentenced Baca, 75, to three years in prison in May, following his conviction for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and lying. Baca, who ran the largest sheriff's department in the country for 15 years, is the most recent and highest-ranking department official to be convicted or who pleaded guilty in connection with a 2011 scheme to block an FBI investigation into inmate abuse in a Los Angeles County jail. 

Baca's attorneys have claimed that they were prevented from presenting their best defense at trial. They argued the judge erred in deciding on excludable evidence such as testimony about Baca's past "good acts" and his Alzheimer's disease. The appeals case is ongoing. 

Baca's attorney had asked for a sentence of community service and home confinement, arguing his client should not be subjected to the "harsh cruelty of the prison system not designed to address his medical condition." But at Baca's sentencing, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson told the former sheriff: "There comes a time when you have to accept responsibility," and handed down the three-year term.

Baca is expected to serve his time in either Kern County or Oregon.

This story has been updated.

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