By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Ex-Orange County assistant sheriff George Jaramillo pleaded no contest Monday to two felonies and agreed to a year in jail. Here is a story from our archives about how Sheriff Mike Carona and his top deputy planned a dynasty
This is a story about a famous LA porn star, a suspicious detective and a frustrated Orange County sheriff. It's also a story about ex-Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo, who is—by his own reckoning—a devoted family man, a hard-working immigrant, and a Mormon who doesn't drink alcohol or smoke. He is, he says, a "genuinely nice guy who has never done anything wrong." And sure enough, if you hang around Jaramillo, you'll see an often polite, always confident man who appears benevolent.
Jaramillo's self-proclaimed innocence prompts laughter among cops who worked with him before he was fired, arrested and indicted on six felony corruption charges last year. These officers say the former second in command at the $500-million-a-year sheriff's department is driven by greed and lust, and is all the more dangerous because he can be disarmingly charming.
But if Jaramillo had severe character flaws, it was a minor one—tightfistedness—that may have begun his undoing.
* * *
Bud Hood is a veteran cop who has worked everything from auto thefts to dignitary protection. Hood was one of the first deputies to join Mike Carona's 1998 campaign for sheriff. That's how he met Jaramillo, a former Garden Grove cop who handled the Carona campaign's media and fund-raising. After the election, Carona rewarded Jaramillo and his campaign financier, Don Haidl, with two of the five jobs as assistant sheriff.
Many rank-and-file deputies were not impressed. Carona's move broke 52 years of department protocol, under which neither Jaramillo nor Haidl was qualified. While Haidl—a millionaire used-car salesman—worked only part time with the sheriff's reserves, Jaramillo found himself inside an initially hostile agency. He needed allies and turned to Hood, among a few others, for official as well as personal assignments.
According to grand jury records reviewed by the Weekly,Jaramillo frequently gave Hood film to develop. The film contained nude pictures of dozens of women, including the assistant sheriff's wife, sister-in-law, several secretaries and at least one county employee. Most of the shots were soft-porn, topless poses. Some were taken at police conventions or in Las Vegas. Hood and other sheriff's department employees told investigators Jaramillo put the pictures in a thick photo album, shared his sex encyclopedia at the office and identified the women as his conquests.
The grand jury also heard that the assistant sheriff, whose salary topped $135,000 annually, was a legendary cheapskate. Not only was Jaramillo bold enough to openly celebrate his adultery, he allegedly stuck Hood with the costs of developing the film from his escapades. In 2001, several deputies refused Jaramillo's request that they rent a San Diego hotel room so that he could have a three-way sex romp. The deputies were sure they'd never be repaid.
What bothered Hood most wasn't the film costs, the adultery or the porn. He witnessed Jaramillo badmouth Carona behind his back, steal credit for the sheriff's successes and brag about taking over the department. Hood, a 27-year-veteran cop, thought the assistant sheriff was destined to sabotage Carona.
"George began to show a persona that was a disloyal demon, almost," said Hood. "You know, I don't know how else to categorize it. But it's not normal for people to show you nude pictures of their wife."
The deputy shared his concerns with the sheriff in a private 1999 meeting. Carona thanked Hood but said he thought Jaramillo's office missteps were correctable with training. Four years later, Hood's view hadn't changed. In July 2004, he told the grand jury that Jaramillo was simply a "corrupt individual."
During conversations with Jaramillo, it's easy to see his mind race from subject to subject. He's funny and opinionated and loves challenges. He talks as if he's invincible. But for four years he made a terrible error. He mistook Hood as either a fan or an imbecile.
Jaramillo was clueless that the man in whom he'd confided kept mental notes; that the man he'd asked to fix his home computer for free had installed a program to save all deleted files in case there was ever an investigation; and that the man he'd asked to establish a secret cell phone account had kept detailed records of calls and would someday give that log to inquiring FBI agents.
"You can't trust anybody," says Jaramillo.
Hood likely agrees. He got stuck paying the assistant sheriff's film costs. And then, he says, Jaramillo stiffed him on more than $800 in cell phone bills.
* * *
Jaramillo play thing?
A beautiful Canadian-born blonde with incredible curves and an intoxicating smile, Amanda Friedland is an internationally famous porn star. Grand jury records say Friedland uses the stage name of Shyla Stylez. She lives in LA and was once married to one of the biggest adult-film producers in the nation. Among her 40-plus films are Big Tit Bust Out, Anal Addicts, Dumb Blonde, My Perfect 10's Again, Semen Biscuit, Humping 9 to 5, Make a Beeline for My Behind, Pussy Licking Good and Tit's a Wonderful Life.
Under oath, Hood told the grand jury and investigators that Jaramillo had bragged about several trysts with the porn star. "I believe it was his birthday and he was going out for a full day with her while he was on duty," said Hood, who declined to be interviewed for this story.