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Rumor Mill Working Overtime as Controversy Bubbles Between FBI and LA Sheriff’s Dept.

 Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The rumor mill has been working over time involving the controversy between FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Lee Baca is fuming that the FBI didn’t tell him about its investigation into inmate abuse, or the fact that the FBI, in an undercover sting, paid a sheriff’s deputy about $1,500 to sneak a cellphone into an inmate who happened to be an FBI informant. When  Baca learned of it all, he was none too happy.

The sheriff announced an investigation into the whole matter and into the sheriff’s deputy who snuck the phone in the jail. The deputy has since resigned, the LA Times reported. It is a crime to sneak a phone into the jail.

Things have been heating up.

A source tells ticklethewire.com that sheriff’s deputies on Monday night visited the home of the FBI case agent in the matter and told her they planned to arrest her. They did not on Monday. On Wednesday, after ticklethewire.com reported the incident, Sheriff Baca told the Los Angeles Times of the possibility of charging the agent:  “No, I don’t think so. It’s not worthy of pursuing, in view of the greater good.” He said the agent directed the deputies’ questions to her supervisor,and Baca dismissed suggestions the visit by deputies was intended to intimidate the agent.”

At the same time, word began circulating this week that the case agent’s supervisor,  Victor Cockrell, an FBI supervisor in the Los Angeles civil rights division, which was handling the case, suddenly decided to retire. Some suggested there might be a connection between the retirement and the case.

But Cockrell told ticklethewire.com on Wednesday that his decision to retire has nothing whatsoever to do with the case.

“It was time to retire,” he said. “I have served my country and it’s time to do something else.”

He declined to comment on the case, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on any case.

Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI Los Angeles office, told ticklethewire.com on Wednesday via email: “Mr. Cockrell’s comment speaks for itself and we wish him the very best.”

Regarding the overall investigation, she told the Times: “With regard to the investigation, FBI agents at all times were acting within the course and scope of their duties and were in compliance with FBI policy and practices.”

Whatever the case, people in law enforcement in Los Angeles have been talking about the controversy, which is sure to percolate  for a while.

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