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Los Angeles sheriff's officials charged in jail misconduct probe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Eighteen current or former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have been charged with corruption and civil rights violations stemming from a probe of misconduct inside the United States' largest county jail system, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

The wide-ranging investigation was continuing, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr told a news conference. He said 16 of the defendants were arrested on Monday and the two others were expected to turn themselves in shortly.

The arrests come more than a year after a blue-ribbon commission blamed Sheriff Lee Baca, whose department oversees the jail system, of failing to halt what the panel called a persistent pattern of unreasonable force against inmates by his deputies, dating back years.

Baca embraced a series of reforms recommended by the panel but declined to step down from his post, as some critics had urged.

A separate report released by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2011 cited the sheriff's department for a number of abuses, including a finding that some deputies had formed gangs that encouraged assaults against inmates.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft)

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