Former Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) Lt. Bill Hunt, who was targeted for harassment and career sabotage in 2006 by then-Sheriff Mike Carona and his goons, has won a litigation settlement of nearly $1.96 million, according to county records.
Hunt--who served the city of San Clemente as its popular police chief in his OCSD role and bravely but unsuccessfully challenged Carona in an election as unfit to continue serving as sheriff after a series of embarrassing corruption scandals--must also be reinstated in the department at his former rank. The re-hiring move is a formality, however. Hunt, who nowadays runs his own in-demand Orange County private investigations company, gets his government job back for pension reasons and must retire after one day, according to records.
The deal, which was approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, requires the county to pay Hunt more than $318,000 in back pay, contribute more than $940,000 into his retirement account and pay $700,000 to his legal team at Silver, Hadden, Silver, Wexler & Levine.
After Carona defeated Hunt in 2006, he immediately began a series of brazenly retaliatory actions against his more ethical underling, including stripping him of power and transferring him to patrol duty in a dangerous, gang-infested area of Stanton.
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The election victory was bittersweet for Carona, who first won office in 1998 by secretly accepting bribes and massive illegal campaign contributions from Don Haidl, a wealthy Rancho Cucamonga used car salesman. Haidl's financial generosity won him a powerful assistant sheriff title though he didn't have one minute of law enforcement training--an outrage that California's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) shamefully ignored. The sheriff ended up arrested by the FBI and IRS Criminal Division for corruption, losing a jury trial and being sentenced to serve 66 months in a federal prison. Haidl, who died in December, got nailed for income tax evasion but served no prison time because he eventually turned government witness against Carona.
The settlement ends four years of county officials trying to defend Carona's indefensible conduct against Hunt.
Though a convicted criminal locked in a Colorado federal prison, Carona continues to enjoy the benefits of an insane county retirement system that forces taxpayers to pay the 57-year-old, disgraced ex-sheriff more than $20,000 (plus regular cost-of-living increases) every month for the rest of life.