DOJ Prosecutor Allegedly Used Character Assassination to Wrongly-Convict Former LA County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka

A Just Cause Discusses Tanaka's Personal & Professional Record to Debunk Prosecutor's Lies at Trial


Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/01/2017 --The prosecution of former Undersheriff Tanaka and eight other Los Angeles County Sheriff Department (LASD) officials came after Sheriff Lee Baca allegedly took full responsibility and admitted he personally ordered and directed an investigation into FBI agents orchestrating the smuggling of cell phones and narcotics into a violent inmate housed at an LASD jail as part of an FBI sting. Although both federal law and California law makes it clear that orchestrating the smuggling of cell phones into a county jail is a felony, Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Fox put the FBI above the law, alleging 1) that there was no probable cause for LASD to investigate the FBI, 2) that the LASD's investigation was a "sham" and 3) prosecuting and wrongly-convicting nine LASD officials who followed Baca's orders and conducted a lawful investigation, of obstruction of justice for interfering with the FBI's investigation.

In an April 2013 FBI interview, Baca allegedly told the FBI that 1) he was the "macro-manager of the investigation," 2) Captain Carey and Lt. Leavins were the "micromanagers" and 3) stressed three times the Tanaka was not directly involved in the investigation. When the FBI specifically asked Baca who would be the person who was the closest thing to being the leader that is micro-managing what is happening, Baca's alleged response was: "That would be Captain Carey." When the FBI, trying to implicate Tanaka, specifically asked Baca who he seeks advice from when making decisions on "tough issues," Baca responded: "No one."

"We believe that the facts and evidence indicate that Fox may have vengefully prosecuted and imprisoned Tanaka for testifying for his subordinates instead of the government," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause.

Sources close to Tanaka tell AJC that before speaking with the FBI in November 2012, Tim Delaney, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Los Angeles division, allegedly told Tanaka "with certainty," he was not a target of the investigation and asked Tanaka to speak with the FBI. After his FBI interview, Tanaka received a non-target letter, and then testified before the grand jury. Fox allegedly tells Tanaka through his attorney (a former AUSA) that Tanaka was honest and may be called as a government witness. Subsequently, defense counsel for LASD subordinates asked Tanaka to testify on their behalf, but Tanaka was warned by his attorney that he may want to "sit this one out". As Baca faded into the background, refusing to testify for those he allegedly ordered to investigate the FBI's misconduct, Tanaka, the 2nd highest ranking official of LASD, knew he could not in good conscience abandon the men and women under his command who had simply followed Baca's orders to conduct an investigation and testified in three separate trials for them. Tanaka then became a target and was vindictively pursued by Fox with a new grand jury. With no evidence and the help of federal Judge "No Mercy" Percy Anderson, who, according to the LA Times, gave Brandon Fox "wide berth" to dig into Tanaka's past, Fox assassinated Tanaka's character in front of the jury to gain a wrongful-conviction.

According to a March 24, 2016 Los Angeles Times article, Fox portrayed Tanaka as a malicious leader who, for years, "largely ignored" explicit warnings of abusive deputies beating inmates and "rebuffed and rebuked whistleblowers" which caused Tanaka to obstruct an FBI investigation into deputy abuse. "I believe Brandon Fox is a liar and Judge Percy Anderson is his crooked crony," contends Banks. "It's as simple as that."

"Character assassination schemes are a common ploy used by weak, unethical federal prosecutors with weak or no evidence," says Banks. "Brandon Fox used frivolous, unrelated matters from Tanaka's past to manipulate the facts and assassinate his character by falsely painting him as a corrupt leader who ruled with an iron fist," adds Banks. "There is absolutely nothing in Tanaka's history that shows he personally abused inmates, had a propensity to abuse inmates, or ever condoned subordinates abusing inmates. In fact, it was quite the opposite," says Banks.

"Paul Tanaka has an exemplary 33-year record with the LASD without a single accusation of abuse from a member of the public or an inmate," says Banks. "One would certainly think that if Tanaka was the malicious leader that endorsed inmate abuse as Fox contends, indications of that behavior would be reflected somewhere in Tanaka's formal record, especially during his time working as a deputy and watch commander at LASD jails," adds Banks.

From May 1982 to October 1983, Tanaka was a deputy at the Men's Central Jail (LASD's largest & most violent) and never had a single complaint filed against him or even an accusation levied against him. The same can be said when Tanaka worked as the watch commander/lieutenant of the joint male/female Mira Loma facility from July 1991 to February 1992. And most notably, Tanaka never received a single complaint or accusation of abuse as watch commander of LASD's Inmate Reception Center where he worked for nearly 2 years (February 1992 to November 1993) and oversaw the booking and jailing of over 10,000 people arrested during the Rodney King riots. Letters to Judge Anderson show Tanaka is a kindhearted man, loving father and community leader.

Christopher Hicks, the father of an autistic son named Malcolm, sent a letter to Judge Anderson about how Paul Tanaka and his 7-year-old son Paul Jr. have made an enormous difference in Malcolm's life in elementary school. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

"Mr. Tanaka has been one of the bright spots in Malcolm's development. Mr. Tanaka volunteered his time with helping and assisting in the classroom. The Kindergarten teacher noticed Malcolm was particularly anxious and nervous about reading in the classroom. Mr. Tanaka took it upon himself to personally work with Malcolm on his reading. They would sit in a quiet room and work on his reading together. Malcolm thrived in this arrangement. He became more confident in his reading skills and looked forward to his time with Mr. Tanaka...Beyond the academics, Mr. Tanaka has encouraged his son (Paul Jr.) to make sure Malcolm is not alone or isolated socially. [Paul Jr.] makes sure that Malcolm is playing with other kids and is included in their activities. We hear from Malcolm's aides that Mr. Tanaka's son has taken it upon himself to "watch out" for Malcolm...At a time in our society when we see so much anger, hate and despair, Mr. Tanaka is teaching his son to accept, love and tolerate." To see an example of Paul Tanaka as a loving Father, view this amazing photo of him holding hands with Paul Jr. and caddying for him at a children's golf tournament at (

LASD Deputy David Real allegedly testified on behalf of Tanaka at trial, saying "Paul is a stand-up person" and twice asserted that Tanaka "changed his life." But when Real wanted to expand on his experience with Tanaka, Fox objected. Sources, not David Real, told AJC Real's story. Tanaka was attending a Veterans Memorial Day event where Real, a decorated combat veteran (silver star recipient) of the Marine Corps, was a keynote speaker. At the end of Real's speech, Tanaka, who at the time was assistant sheriff of LASD and Gardena's mayor, commented on how impressed he was with Real to the chief of police of the Gardena Police Department and found out that Real had just been fired as a Gardena patrol officer because of struggles with the field training program. Tanaka, feeling bad for Real, whose dream was to be a peace officer, called the Gardena chief to inquire about Real and was told that Real was an absolutely great person with high integrity. After the hiring freeze, Tanaka discussed Real with the LASD captain who oversaw personnel and recommended that the captain reach out to Real and put him through the LASD application process. Real passed with flying colors and this American hero was able to fulfill his dream of becoming a deputy sheriff because Paul Tanaka gave him an opportunity.

Judge Anderson allegedly allowed Fox to paint Tanaka as being a part of an alleged deputy gang from the Lynwood patrol station who were accused in a 1987 lawsuit of abusing black and Hispanic citizens in the community even though Tanaka was not a named party in the lawsuit. Presiding federal judge Terry Hatter not only personally coined the term "Vikings" to describe the alleged gang because they had viking tattoos but also said they were a "neo-Nazi, white supremacist" gang. "Tanaka is Japanese-American and certainly wouldn't be welcome in any neo-Nazi, white supremacist organization and neither would a Hispanic like LASD Captain Charles Antuna who also had a viking tattoo when he worked with Tanaka at Lynwood Station in the 80's," says Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause. "It's not shocking that Antuna wasn't named in the lawsuit either because Hispanics are also despised by white supremacists," muses Stewart. A Just Cause believes that Tanaka truthfully testified that the viking symbol was nothing more than the Lynwood station mascot that represented station pride for deputies participating in intramural sports. A mural of a viking was actually on the wall in the station. "Knowing these details, Judge Anderson still permitted Fox to use Tanaka's viking tattoo to allegedly poison the jury against him," says Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause.

Antuna allegedly testified that Tanaka told him he would not tolerate neglect of duty, bias or apathy and that Tanaka never indicated in any way that he approved of "unlawful" deputy force upon inmates. This prompted Fox to allegedly make an absurd objection, saying he didn't feel it was relevant whether Tanaka disapproved of unlawful force on inmates from 2006 to 2008. Tanaka attorney Jerome Haig was aghast at the objection because of Fox's repeated claims to the jury that Tanaka ignored deputy abuse throughout his entire career. Anderson sustained Fox's objection. "Judge Anderson's bias raises its ugly head again," says Stewart. "Anderson allows Fox wide berth to go back 30 years into Tanaka's past to use unrelated matters to attack Tanaka's character, but won't allow LASD defense witnesses who worked with Tanaka in the past to defend those attacks," adds Stewart.

During his career at LASD, Tanaka twice received the Distinguished Service Award, LASD's highest service award, twice the Exemplary Service Award, the 2nd highest award to honor excellence, as well as a unit citation, the highest unit-level honor. Tanaka also served for many years on the board of 5 non-profit organizations which are the Hollenbeck Police Business Council (Youth Center), East West Players (Asian American Theatre), Go For Broke Foundation (WWII Veterans Organization), Harnett Buhai Center for Family Law (Abused Women's Legal Center) and the Los Angeles Chinese American Sheriff's Advisory Council (Community Organization).

The alleged vindictive prosecution and wrongful conviction of the LASD9 (Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, Captain Tom Carey, Lt. Steve Leavins, Lt. Greg Thompson, Sgt. Scott Craig, Sgt. Maricela Long, Deputy Mickey Manzo, Deputy James Sexton & Deputy Gerard Smith) was a tyrannical abuse of federal government power and an attack on all sheriff deputies and local police officers in the U.S. who make tremendous sacrifices every day to enforce laws, investigate crime and protect the public.

"A Just Cause is calling on all LASD deputies, police officers and police unions across the country to unify and decry the DOJ's abuse of power that resulted in the wrongful convictions of Paul Tanaka and other LASD officials, or you could be next," concludes Banks.

Media Relations Contact

Lamont Banks
Executive Director
A Just Cause

View this press release online at: