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Deliberations continue in FBI obstruction-of-justice case with new juror on panel

Valencia man is among the 6 Sheriff’s Department sworn personnel on trial

Posted: June 30, 2014 12:01 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2014 12:01 p.m.

One juror was replaced with an alternate today as deliberations entered their second week in the trial of six Sheriff’s Department sworn personnel accused of obstructing the FBI in its investigation of jail wrongdoing.

As jurors arrived at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson replaced one of them with an alternate, said U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek, technically composing a “new jury.”

“The ‘new jury’ was instructed to begin deliberations anew,” he said.

About 30 minutes after the panel began deliberations, a note was submitted to the judge, Mrozek said. But the note was merely “an inquiry about where they can eat lunch,” he said.

The original jury began deliberating a week ago and spent three and a half days debating guilt or innocence in the case of Lt. Stephen Leavins of Valencia and five other sheriff’s personnel charged with obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors allege the six sworn Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officers on trial had obstructed the federal probe into jailhouse corruption and tried to hide an informant from FBI agents.

Charges were eventually brought against 21 sheriff’s officials in connection with the FBI’s investigation. Seven were charged with obstruction of justice; one was tried earlier, and his trial ended with a hung jury.

During the trial of the remaining six, Leavins, a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs lieutenant who lives in Valencia, spent three days on the witness stand.

Leavins maintained throughout his testimony that he was doing his job investigating deputies and protecting an FBI informant — not trying to obstruct the FBI’s probe.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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