Monday, October 29, 2007

O.C. Sheriff Carona indicted (Orange County, CA)

LA Times

Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona has been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a lengthy investigation into allegations that he misused his office for financial gain, law enforcement officials said Monday.

The indictment, filed under seal, is expected to be made public soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday, officials said.

Carona's longtime political advisor and attorney, Michael Schroeder, said federal authorities had not questioned the sheriff, nor officially informed him that he was the target of a federal investigation. Schroeder, who was in Amsterdam on business, also said that rumors of the investigation had not distracted Carona from his job

"He's focused on the fires," said Schroeder, who does not represent Carona on criminal matters.

Carona's defense attorney, H. Dean Steward, did not return a call to his cellphone. The sheriff did not respond to a request for an interview.

An indictment would mark a spectacular fall for the 52-year-old sheriff, who only five years ago was widely seen as a rising star in California Republican Party politics. Carona received widespread attention in 2002 after he led the search for the killer of a 5-year-old girl, Samantha Runnion, whose kidnapping and murder captivated the nation. In the months after that case, Carona was often mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor on a slate with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But even as he gained attention in the political realm, Carona was coming under attack from critics who accused him of improper management and ethical lapses. His conduct had hurt the department's integrity and morale, according to the critics, who pointed in particular to allegations that he had issued badges and concealed-weapons permits to campaign contributors without proper training or background checks. Carona denied the badges were political favors and said his conduct was proper...

No comments: