Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sheriff Carona indicted on public corruption charges (Orange County, CA)

The Orange County Register

Sheriff Mike Carona, his wife and a woman identified as his "longtime mistress" have been indicted on charges of public corruption by a federal grand jury, The Orange County Register has learned.

Orange County's top lawman has been charged with seven felony counts that he illegally accepted money, high-priced gifts and tickets to exclusive sporting events, and made loans to his girlfriend in exchange for favors, according to an indictment expected to be unsealed today.

Carona's former top aide, George Jaramillo, in a separate agreement, pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion and corruption charges in March and assisted the FBI and IRS in building the case against Carona. Jaramillo, a former assistant sheriff fired by Carona in 2005, is in jail on county charges.

Carona, 52, is also charged with witness tampering for attempting to persuade Don Haidl, a former assistant sheriff, to withhold testimony from federal investigators during tape-recorded conversations on March 17, 2004, and Aug. 13, 2007, the indictment says. Haidl, 56, bankrolled Carona's first campaign.


The indictment also includes eight counts against Debra Hoffman, 41, a Newport Beach attorney and investor who the document identifies as the sheriff's "longtime mistress." The charges include aiding Carona and bankruptcy fraud, the indictment reads. Deborah Carona, 56, the sheriff's wife of 27 years, faces one count of conspiracy, the document says.


The charges mark the shocking turn of a career Orange County Republicans hoped would rise from local lawman to statewide office and, in some of the most optimistic dreams, the U.S. Senate. Carona, a charming bodybuilder who liked to talk about his Christian family values, was anointed "America's Sheriff" by the national media during a highly publicized crime early in his first term and is a friend of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.......

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