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L.A. Now Live: Federal grand jury investigates L.A. jails

December 19, 2012 |  8:06 am

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Los Angeles County sheriff's officials moved a secret FBI informant to hinder an investigation into alleged jail abuses.

Times reporter Robert Faturechi will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the probe and allegations that jail officials launched a plan to obstruct the investigation after they learned the informant was surreptitiously collecting information on allegedly abusive and corrupt deputies.

The inmate was moved  from downtown lockup to a cell in a patrol station in San Dimas, Faturechi and staff writer Jack Leonard reported. Jailers kept him under constant watch, people with knowledge of the case said, and listed the informant, a convicted bank robber, under a series of aliases — including Robin Banks.

Several sheriff's employees have testified at recent grand jury hearings about the handling of the informant, people with knowledge of the case said. At least one witness testified that moving the inmate and changing his name was an attempt to hide him from federal agents, and that top officials, including the department's second in command, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, played a role in the plan, according to a person familiar with the testimony.

Sheriff's officials insist they were not hiding the informant, Anthony Brown, from the FBI but protecting him from other deputies.