Conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation

Obstruction of justice may be defined as any act that is intended to interfere with the administration of justice. The criminal charge of “obstruction of justice” is an offense that occurs when an individual has knowingly lied or tried to deceive law enforcement and prosecutors in order to change the outcome of a criminal case. A case recently announced by the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles demonstrates just how charges of obstruction might arise.

The recent FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights violations and corruption involving members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has led to various charges including conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail.

Seven LASD members indicted for obstruction of justice

One six-count indictment alleges a broad conspiracy to obstruct justice by seven sworn members of the LASD. This case developed when deputies assigned to the Men’s Central Jail learned that an inmate was an FBI informant and was acting as a cooperator in the FBI’s corruption and civil rights investigation.

After learning that the inmate received a cellular phone from a deputy sheriff who took a bribe and that the inmate was part of a civil rights investigation, the deputies allegedly involved in the obstruction scheme took affirmative steps to hide the cooperator from the FBI and the United States Marshals Service, which was attempting to bring the inmate to testify before a federal grand jury in response to an order issued by a federal judge. As part of the conspiracy, the deputies allegedly altered records to make it appear that the cooperator had been released. They then re-booked the inmate under a different name, and then told the cooperator that he had been abandoned by the FBI.

“Some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law”

The U.S. attorney in the case, Andre Birotte Jr., said in a statement, “The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the Sheriff’s Department considered themselves to be above the law. Instead of cooperating with the federal investigation to ensure that corrupt law enforcement officers would be brought to justice, the defendants in this case are accused of taking affirmative steps designed to ensure that light would not shine on illegal conduct that violated basic constitutional rights.”

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman