Friday, April 10, 2009 at 5 p.m.
Ex-Sheriff Mike Carona should serve 108 months or nine years in prison for attempting to sabotage a grand jury investigation into abuse of power and bribery at the Orange County Sheriff's Department, according to a brief filed today by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The recommendation, which comes from prosecutors Brett Sagel and Ken Julian, is 30 months more than what a federal probation officer recently recommended based on sentencing guidelines.
Some will see this as ironically fitting: A nine-year punishment matches Carona's time as sheriff after stealing office by a using more than $200,000 in illegal contribution to win OC's top cop job in 1998.
Sagel and Julian concluded the more severe punishment is necessary given the seriousness of the crime and Carona's willing, repeated abuse of his public office and power. They've included in their brief segments of secretly recorded FBI transcripts detailing the then-sheriff plotting to get businessman Don Haidl to lie about bribery and gifts.
Carona, who portrayed himself as a God-fearing Christian conservative while in office, believes he's done nothing wrong, despite the verdict, and wants to spend zero time in prison. He fears that he might be "abused" if incarcerated. But prison officials have stated that they can handle his presence, noting that other dirty ex-law enforcement officers have lived in minimum security housing in the past without incident.
Given that Carona, the convicted felon, now wants coddling, the best line in the fed's brief: They quoted Carona's own campaign pledge that "coddling criminals" is wrong and would never happen on his watch.
Additionally, the prosecutors say it's appropriate that Carona pay a fine of $125,000--rather than the $65,000 recommended by the probation officer.
Carona will learn his fate on April 27 in Santa Ana's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Hey, Carona fans, don't pout. Here's reason for joy: Taxpayers shell out $185,000-a-year in pension for the crook who once topped California's second largest police agency. See? Forget what your momma told you. Crime does pay!
For more background on Carona's corruption, go HERE
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly