In December 2013 a total of 18 current and former L.A. County Sheriff deputies were arrested on ongoing investigations stemming from civil rights violations of inmates. The jails had been under a federal investigation since 2011 and it came to light with a discovery of a cellphone. Since the initial arrests, an additional two deputies have been indicted, bringing the total to 20.
Back in 2011 L.A. County Sheriff’s working in the Men’s Central Jail found an inmate in possession of a cellphone. The inmate paid a deputy to smuggle the cellphone in to him in exchange for $1500 and a promise of an additional $20k. Upon discovering the phone deputies attempted to conceal the inmate, threaten a FBI agent and also provided false and misleading statements.
A federal jury determined the six defendants participated in a broad conspiracy to obstruct justice, which included two Lieutenants. All of the defendants were convicted on July 1, 2014 and three are scheduled to be sentenced on September 8th.
- Gregory Thompson, 54, a now-retired lieutenant who oversaw LASD’s Operation Safe Jails Program;
- Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, 52, who was assigned to the LASD’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau;
- Gerard Smith, 42, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program;
- Mickey Manzo, 34, a deputy who was assigned to the Operation Safe Jails Program;
- Scott Craig, 50, a sergeant who was assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau;
- Maricela Long, 46, a sergeant who assigned to the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau.
The other defendant in the obstruction case, James Sexton, is set for retrial on Tuesday, September 9th.
All six defendants face statutory maximum sentences of 15 years in federal prison.
Other deputies indicted:
- Billy Khounthavong , Benny Khounthavong and Johnny Khounthavong, all brothers, indicted on mortgage fraud;
- Eric Gonzalez, Sussie Ayala, Fernando Luviano, Pantamitr Zunggeemoge and Noel Womack indictment for using force on those in the visiting center;
- Joey Aguiar and Mariano Ramirez indictment for falsification of records and civil rights violations;
- Richard White Piquette indictment for possession of an unregistered firearm
- Bryan Brunsting and Jason Branum aka Jason Johnson indictment for falsification of records, civil rights violations and aiding and abetting