Los Angeles sheriff's officials charged in jail misconduct probe

LOS ANGELES Mon Dec 9, 2013 6:06pm EST

1 of 3. Andre Birotte Jr. (C), United States Attorney, Central District of California, stands next to Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office Bill Lewis (R) while speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles, California, December 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Eighteen current or former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have been charged with corruption and civil rights violations stemming from a probe of misconduct inside the United States' largest county jail system, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

The wide-ranging investigation was continuing, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr told a news conference. He said 16 of the defendants were arrested on Monday and the two others were expected to turn themselves in shortly.

The arrests come more than a year after a blue-ribbon commission blamed Sheriff Lee Baca, whose department oversees the jail system, of failing to halt what the panel called a persistent pattern of unreasonable force against inmates by his deputies, dating back years.

Baca embraced a series of reforms recommended by the panel but declined to step down from his post, as some critics had urged.

A separate report released by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2011 cited the sheriff's department for a number of abuses, including a finding that some deputies had formed gangs that encouraged assaults against inmates.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft)

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