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Image 1 of 1 FILE--In this May 12, 2017, file photo, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, center, walks with attorneys, David Hochman, left, and Nathan Hochman, outside federal court in Los Angeles after he was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into abuses at the jails he ran. A federal appeals court says Baca should remain free while appealing his corruption conviction. less FILE--In this May 12, 2017, file photo, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, center, walks with attorneys, David Hochman, left, and Nathan Hochman, outside federal court in Los Angeles after he was ... more Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP Court grants ex-sheriff bail, citing Alzheimer's diagnosis 1 / 1 Back to Gallery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca should remain free while challenging his conviction for trying to derail an FBI investigation into abuses at the jail system he ran, a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

Baca, 75, raised a substantial legal question when he claimed he was wrongly prevented from presenting evidence of his Alzheimer's diagnosis at trial, three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

"Baca's claim that the district court erred by excluding expert evidence of his Alzheimer's disease is at least 'fairly debatable,' " the court said in an unsigned order.

Federal Judge Percy Anderson erred in concluding Baca was only appealing to delay reporting to prison to serve a three-year term for obstructing justice, conspiracy and lying to investigators, the court said.

"The record does not support the district court's conclusion that 'the nature of (Baca's) illness' suggests that Baca is pursuing the appeal for the purpose of delay," the order said. "Moreover, the district court failed to recognize that Baca had raised a substantial question, which is evidence that the appeal is not for purpose of delay."

Baca has long held he was not guilty of the crimes and would eventually prevail on appeal.

He was convicted in March — nearly six years after he and other brass were alerted that a jail inmate caught with a contraband cellphone was working to provide the FBI with evidence of brutal beatings by guards.

Once the FBI investigation was exposed, Baca met with other brass in the department to stall that probe and mislead their federal counterparts. But the plan backfired. Federal investigators turned their attention to taking down higher-ups who conspired with the longtime sheriff to kill the civil rights investigation.

Baca was sentenced in May to three years in prison for obstruction of justice, conspiracy and lying.

Source : http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Court-grants-ex-sheriff-bail-citing-Alzheimer-s-12288343.php

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