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Two More Deputies Indicted in LA Jail Investigation

A grand jury has indicted two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies on civil rights charges for allegedly striking a chained and cuffed inmate at the Men’s Central Jail with fists, feet and a flashlight, then trying to cover up the incident by preparing false police reports, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

The deputies, identified as Joey Aguiar, 26, and Mariano Ramirez, 38, were each charged with several criminal counts, including conspiring to violate federal civil rights and deprivation of rights under color of law that caused injuries, and preparing a false report. If convicted the deputies face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.

The charges against the pair are part of an ongoing and wide-ranging federal investigation into the use of illegal force by deputies in the jails, which has already resulted in civil rights and corruption charges against 18 current and former deputies. Those charges and other controversies involving the Sheriff’s Department led embattled Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca to opt for retirement rather than seek a fifth term.

John L. Scott has been named acting sheriff until Los Angeles County voters go to the polls in June to elect a new sheriff. If no one gets a majority in that election there would be a run-off in November.

According to the indictment, the incident took place Feb. 11, 2009, when the inmate, identified only as “B.P.,” was handcuffed and secured with a “waist chain” in the jail, awaiting trial for an alleged probation violation. Both deputies allegedly punched and kicked him in the head and upper body before using pepper spray on him. The indictment also states Ramirez also struck the inmate with a flashlight.

Soon after, the deputies allegedly wrote false reports designed to cover up the illegal use of force, which were then given to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for potential criminal prosecution of the victim, the indictment states.

The indictment charges Aguiar with one count of falsification of records for submitting a report that “falsely stated, among other things, that victim-inmate BP had attempted to head butt deputy Aguiar’s face and that victim-inmate BP violently kicked at deputy Aguiar.”

-- Andrew Blankstein, NBC News