Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 6 p.m.
A federal sentencing official has recommended that ex-Sheriff Mike Carona win an all-expenses-paid 78-month trip to the slammer for his unrepentant corruption while in control of California's second largest police agency.
This should come as a surprise to Carona, his defense lawyers and other folks who are still pretending that our former top cop was, to use his own description, found innocent of abusing his powerful office.
In January, a cheerfully weepy Carona stood outside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse and declared that God, working through an Orange County jury, had provided him "a miracle" and "vindicated" him of any criminal conduct. It would have been a lovely story to tell the grandkids (or the trolls he can still pick up in bars in dim light at last call) if not for a pesky little problem: It would be a lie.
Not that lying or cheating or acting like a punk has ever bothered Carona. But a jury convicted him of attempting to sabotage a federal grand jury's investigation into corruption at the top of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. While in office, he repeatedly coached a potential grand jury witness, Don Haidl, how to lie about their secret financial transactions. His efforts were captured on FBI audio recordings.
Carona's lawyers, who joined the convicted felon in a post-conviction "victory" celebration at an OC restaurant, are arguing that U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford should overturn the jury's guilty verdict or give the fallen Republican Party star with close ties to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a light wrist slap: probation.
Guilford will announce Carona's punishment on April 27.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly