Probing brutality in LA jails, FBI slips cellphones to inmates

Sep 26th, 2011 | By | Category: Cell phones, Security, Spotlight
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The FBI smuggled cellphones to inmates in LA's Main Jail to facilitate their excessive force investigation.

FBI probing reports of beatings in L.A. County jails

Federal agents sneaked a cellphone into Men’s Central Jail as part of their investigation of misconduct, sources say.

By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

Federal authorities are investigating allegations of inmate beatings and other misconduct by deputies in Los Angeles County jails, with FBI agents going so far as to sneak a cellphone to an inmate to get reports from inside, according to law enforcement sources.

The inquiries include allegations that deputies broke an inmate’s jaw and other facial bones and beat another man for two minutes while he was unconscious.

Their investigation created a flap recently when Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department brass discovered that an inmate inside Men’s Central Jail was an FBI informant equipped with a cellphone he was believed to be using to communicate with agents on the outside.

Sheriff Lee Baca, who had not been notified by the feds of the plant inside his jail, is expected to meet with U.S. Atty. André Birotte Jr. soon to discuss the phone incident and the growing tensions between the two law enforcement agencies…

After sheriff’s officials discovered the FBI cellphone, the Sheriff’s Department placed one deputy, Gilbert Michel, on leave. He was being investigated by the department on suspicion of allowing a contraband cellphone behind bars, according to sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation…

[Sheriff's spokesman Steve] Whitmore said sneaking a phone into the jails is a serious breach of security that could put inmates, deputies and the public at risk. He said he did not know whether the feds had any safeguards in place to monitor the phone. Federal authorities declined to discuss the matter. The department has launched an investigation into the incident, including the FBI’s role in “colluding with an inmate” to get a cellphone behind bars, he said…(Full text at LA Times)

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17 Comments to “Probing brutality in LA jails, FBI slips cellphones to inmates”

  1. ed says:

    Paco, my point is; any information gathered would be illegal and therfore inadmissable in court, would’nt it? So what’s the point in doing this?

    • pacovilla says:

      I certainly HOPE your analysis is correct, Ed. However, look at what they did to Rob McGowan and it’s not hard to believe the feds can do whatever they want with impunity.

  2. Howie Katz says:

    Not only Jedgar, but his sidekick Clyde Tolson and their English bulldog must also be rolling over in their graves. Say what you like about Hoover, but as long as he was the Director, the FBI agents were a bunch of straight arrows who would have never pulled any of this shit.

    Today the culturally-all-inclusive FBI is staffed with a bunch of prima donnas who spend more time behind their computers than they do on the streets. And when they do get on the streets, half of them wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between their asses and a hole in the ground.

  3. ed says:

    Is aidding and abetting still a crime? Just wondering?

    • pacovilla says:

      Bribery is certainly a crime. Now that we know the FBI gave a deputy 1500 bones to deliver a cellphone to an inmate, bribery and conspiracy to commit same makes 2 felonies and counting…

  4. Retired says:

    OMG— Where’s Jackie Spears and Gloria Romero,
    Shit you two Senators should be on top of this one.

    Damn I see Madrid case coming to LA Co.

    OH Shit, there I see Judge Henderson and Clark Kelso.

    Damn even the Coleman Riders are here.

    Prison Law Office just opened a Jail Law Office Associate.

    Der you go ADA!! ADA!! ADA!!

    LA Sheriffs Dept. say good by to your organization as you know it.

  5. TexCop says:

    Actually there are both Custody Assistance(which are non-sworn) and Deputies(sworn) in the county jails. Technically the CA’s are not supposed to supervise prisoners directly. But we all know how that works.

  6. 1962 says:

    What do we expect from the Feds. They’re the ones who allowed firearms to be given to the narcos (Fast and Furious) and were then used to murder people. The list of federal abuses is a mile long.

  7. Centurion says:

    Well at least they havn’t cuffed up any county officers in front of inmates, locked them in visiting room holding cells, interrogated them and denied them representation. (Like they did at Corcoran in ’94). Not yet anyway.

    POBOR? Civil rights?

    assholes.

    • Bob Walsh says:

      I don’t know about L A county, but many counties use Correctional Officers in jails. County Correctional Officers are typically public officers and not peace officers and not (I believe) covered by POBOR. That doesn’t make it right.

      • Centurion says:

        Thanks for the input Bob.

        Actually, Men’s Central, touted as the largest jail in the world, IS staffed by peace officers. Correctional officers in that facility are sheriff’s deputies, and they are covered by the Peace Officer’s Bill of Rghts and by theu US Constitution, just as we are.

        Here’s a link if anyone is interested. http://www.lasdhq.org/divisions/custody/mcj/index.html

        • pacovilla says:

          Correctional officers are, by definition, peace officers. The penal code authorizes non-peace “custodial officers” to serve in jails provided a certain number of peace officers are also working in the facility. Smaller counties like Sierra and Alpine use custodial officers to reduce costs but most larger jails I am familiar with staff with deputies or peace officer CO’s.

  8. Bob Walsh says:

    I guess if you are a fed it is OK to break the law. No, wait, it isn’t against the law, is it?

    • pacovilla says:

      Unauthorized communication with a jail inmate is a misdemeanor. Therefore, regardless of the status of the cellphone law, the FBI violated CA law, not to mention LA County regulations.

  9. s/q c/o says:

    Wow!