Former L.A. County sheriff pleads not guilty to new federal charges
Lee Baca announces his retirement during a news conference at Los Angeles County Sheriff's headquarters in Monterey Park, California, U.S., January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/FIle Photo

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges he sought to obstruct a federal corruption probe that overshadowed the final years of his tenure as chief custodian of the nation's largest county jail system.

Baca, 74, was indicted last week on three new criminal charges after he backed out of an earlier plea agreement rather than face a sentence tougher than the six-month term a federal judge had rejected as too lenient. He entered a not guilty plea on Friday to all three new charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

(Reporting by Paula Lehman in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman)