Give Mike Carona, our convicted-felon ex-sheriff, credit for one thing: He has supernatural powers that philandering men around the world must admire. He's repeatedly cheated on his wife, his mistress, another mistress, another mistress, another mistress--well, you get the picture. And yet his two top women, longtime wife Debbie and mistress Debbie, get along famously in public. They've even hugged!
Who needs Dr. Phil?
Today, of course, the Debbies were summoned one last time to the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana. It was a joyous occasion for the pair. Following a jury's not-guilty findings earlier this month on certain conspiracy charges against Carona, prosecutors agreed to dismiss felony counts facing the Debbies individually.
Never mind that Prosecutor Ken Julian didn't ask to dismiss the cases based on a lack of evidence. Julian did so, he said, in the "interests of justice." He explained it would be wrong to convict the two Debbies on charges Carona had miraculously (the ex-sheriff's description) escaped.
(Somewhere in a two-story Dove Canyon abode, a middle-aged man is weeping. George Jaramillo, Carona's hand-picked No. 2 at the Orange County Sheriff's Department from 1999 to 2004, has already confessed to the conspiracy that the Carona jury didn't think existed. Jaramillo faces potentially decades in prison at sentencing later this year.)
But a simple "thank you" was not forthcoming from either Debbie. Hoffman's public defender, Sylvia Torres-Guillen, rose from her seat, dripping in contempt for the feds. Her client should never have been arrested, she said, before essentially asking federal Judge Andrew Guilford to declare the charges baseless. She asked the court to dismiss the case "with prejudice." Was she trying to open a legal avenue to sue the government for wrongful prosecution?
The Torres-Guillen sermon, like much of her work during the trial, provided the only humorous moment in an otherwise-uneventful hearing.
Prosecutor Julian responded by saying that if Debbie 2--that would be Hoffman, I'm guessing--wasn't satisfied with him dropping charges, he had a new idea.
"We'll be happy to withdraw our motion [to dismiss] and proceed to trial, if that's what she'd like," he said.
The deadpan quip, delivered with all the sincerity Julian could muster on short notice, knocked the smile off Torres-Guillen's face.
Never mind, she said. Guilford sided with Julian. That defense loss didn't dampen spirits for long.
Soon the festivities moved outside the courthouse, where a whistling Santa Ana tossed television news reporters' usually cemented coifs. Before a bank of Los Angeles-based news cameras, the Debbies took turns, well, shtupping (thanks Mickadeit!) Julian and fellow Assistant United States Attorney Brett Sagel. The prosecutors were the callous criminals, they suggested.
"The lies that were told were told over and over again," said an always-articulate Debbie 1, who then offered her own deadpan quip mocking Sagel's closing argument against her husband. "Their lies became the truth!"
Oh, Debbie 1. You do have a sense of humor!
Was it a lie that you, your husband and Debbie 2 collectively took more than $400,000 in cash and gifts from men seeking influence over law enforcement? No.
Was it a lie that a used-car salesman with practically no law-enforcement training was given full police powers and named an assistant sheriff after giving your husband cash and illegal contributions? No.
Was it a lie that part of those monies funded, as your husband acknowledged in secret FBI recordings, an on-duty "fuck pad" for him and Debbie 2? No.
Was it a lie that the cash and gifts were systematically left off annual public-disclosure forms? No.
During her turn, a shaking Hoffman pulled a sheet of white paper from her purse and read from typewritten notes. She called herself a "pawn in a politically motivated case" guided by "overzealous" government prosecutors looking for "their lottery ticket to a private firm." She thanked God.
When KCAL's Dave Lopez and I tried to ask questions about the powerful evidence against her, Hoffman refused to answer.
She did volunteer this before happily walking away with Carona, Debbie 1, their lawyers and the Alice in Wonderland fan club: "I stand for truth and justice."
Nope. The facts showed otherwise. You stood for nothing more than a crooked, married man's prowling "Little Sheriff."
This isn't to say that I don't have some sympathetic feelings for the Debbies. I always feel for women who can't shake themselves from dishonest, selfish pigs.
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--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly