It wasn't too many years ago when Joseph G. Cavallo was one of Orange County's most well-connected criminal defense lawyers.
Cavallo's close, power-hungry pals included Sheriff Mike Carona as well as assistant sheriff George Jaramillo and Don Haidl.
Then Carona, Jaramillo and Haidl were indicted for corruption, a fate Cavallo couldn't escape in 2005 when he was arrested and eventually convicted by prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh of felonies for capping--illegally paying bail bond agents to steer clients to his firm.
At the 2007 sentencing hearing, Superior Court Judge Carla Singer listened to John Barnett, Cavallo's prominent defense lawyer, and didn't send the guilty defendant to prison. Instead, she gave him six months of home detention, three years of probation and an $18,000 fine.
On Aug. 24, Cavallo walked back into Singer's Santa Ana courtroom and made three demands: dismissal of his guilty plea, a reduction of all charges to misdemeanors and the sealing of his file from future public access.
Having successfully completed probation without violating any other laws, Cavallo was entitled to have his guilty plea officially deleted--and so Baytieh did not object.
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But the prosecutor, known for wiping out a generation of Little Saigon gangsters and winning a long list of high-profile murder cases, objected to the misdemeanor move and the sealing of the Irvine lawyer's criminal file.
By chance, Cavallo left the courtroom and ran into District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. Though the lawyer has severely criticized the DA as a forked tongue buffoon, he shook his hand, chatted briefly about boating and left.