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Now, for the defense. The trial of former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca




Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, center, leaves the federal courthouse on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. His attorney, Nathan Hochman, is on his left.
Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, center, leaves the federal courthouse on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. His attorney, Nathan Hochman, is on his left.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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He was once the most popular elected official in LA County, and the head of its largest law enforcement agency.

Now, former Sheriff Lee Baca is on trial, charged with obstructing justice. The case grows out of a scheme to thwart a federal investigation into brutality in the county jails that began in 2011.

Nine former Sheriff's officials have been convicted or entered guilty pleas, including Baca's number two, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.

Prosecutors have argued that Baca was fully aware of efforts to frustrate the federal investigation. Now his defense counsel will attempt to convince the jury in the federal trial that Baca did not know about wrong-doing by his deputies, and that his key concern was the safety and security of the jails.

Click on the blue bar above to listen to the full interview with KPCC's Frank Stoltze, who's been covering the trial.