Court Case Pits L.A. Sheriffs against the FBI

In a bizarre case, which seemingly pitted one law enforcement agency against another, a group of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeants are alleged to have targeted by an FBI agent for intimidation.

The officers allegedly visited the home of an FBI agent in September 2011 in order to notify her that they were in the process or obtaining a warrant for her arrest. But, the threat turned out to be a ruse.

The deputy who made the call, Sgt. Maricella Long, and her partner – who was there with her when she made the call – Sgt. Scott Craig, were plotting to get information from the agent relating to an investigation the Bureau was launching into alleged civil rights violations made by the county against inmates in the L.A. County jail.

The plan, which involved six officers in all, resulted in their arrest on obstruction of justice charges. Prosecutors assert that the plan amounted to an attempt to block federal oversight of the jail and cover up wrongdoing within the department.

During the May and June 2014 trial, the L.A. County Sherriff’s Department’s frustration with its inability to investigate or coerce the FBI became evident. At one point the department had asked a Superior Court judge to sign off on a warrant which would order the FBI to hand over information relating to the investigation of the county’s jails. The judge declined to sign the order, saying that federal law trumps state law.

Despite the judge’s denial of the warrant, prosecutors allege that the officers nevertheless moved forward with targeting the FBI agent, Leah Marx. They are alleged to have set up a surveillance team to shadow her, and even confronted her in her driveway.

The ongoing case shows the often deep divisions among law enforcement agencies in the country, though they are all tasked with protecting the public.


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