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Six Los Angeles sheriff's officials convicted in federal jail probe: reports

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[July 02, 2014]  (Reuters) - Six Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials were found guilty on Tuesday of obstructing a federal investigation into violence and other misconduct against prisoners at county jails, California media reported.

The six defendants - two lieutenants, two sergeants and two deputies - were convicted by a federal jury in Los Angeles of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, charges which carry a possible maximum prison sentence of 15 years, media reported.

City News Service, a California news agency cited U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. as saying: "(The defendants) participated in a scheme to thwart a federal grand jury investigation into violations of basic constitutional rights guaranteed to both prisoners and visitors to county jails."

Accusations ranged from conspiring to obstruct a 2011 federal investigation including an effort to prevent contact between federal investigators and an inmate informant after his cover was blown.

According to media reports, attorneys for the men argued they were following orders from more senior officials in the Sheriff's Department, which oversees the largest county jail system in the United States and its roughly 18,000 inmates.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 8, media reported. A trial for a seventh defendant ended last month in a mistrial, media reported.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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