Saint Mike Carona?

"He worked hard for you. He was a tireless worker. He worked all the time. He did great things. He helped at-risk kids and he did so much for the vulnerable people in our community."

--Exasperated, red-faced lawyer Jeffrey Rawitz (pictured) wrapping up an eight hour closing argument today in his defense of Mike Carona, who faces a series of public corruption charges including bribery and witness tampering after an extensive IRS and FBI investigation into the indicted ex-Orange County sheriff's activities. Prosecutors say Carona is an unethical liar who repeatedly abused his office by accepting valuable secret gifts. One man, a wealthy used car salesman, gave Carona at least $430,000 in illegal campaign contributions, free custom-made suits, private jet rides, hotels, booze, food, casino chips, a boat and $1,000-a-month in cash stuffed envelopes, according to federal agents. A jumbo-sized defense team, supplied allegedly for free by Jones Day, claims the gifts had nothing to do with the fact that Carona gave the man, Don Haidl, full police powers and the rank of assistant sheriff at the nation's fifth largest police agency. But, oddly, the defense even conceded that Carona had expressed "a willingness to lie" to a federal grand jury during secretly recorded conversations with a co-conspirator prior to his indictment. "That is not a good thing to say about the sheriff of Orange County," Rawitz said. "I understand you may not think well of him." Jurors will begin deliberations on Thursday.

R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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