One day after the Weekly published photos of Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona embracing a Mafia associate and handing out official badges to two other Las Vegas businessmen, a top challenger in the upcoming June election demanded that Carona resign immediately.
As dark clouds loomed overhead, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Commander Ralph Martin stood on the steps of the old county courthouse in Santa Ana, and pointed to an easel displaying photos the Weekly published in print or online of Carona:
being embraced by mob associate and Vegas strip club owner Rick Rizzolo, who was holding a drink;
standing in front of a cake as he's flanked by Freddie Glusman, whose restaurant is a known mob hangout, and casino owner Gary Primm, contributors whom the sheriff had given official badges and bottles of wine to along with the cake;
swearing in Glusman and Primm as reserve Orange County sheriff's deputies.
"This is unacceptable behavior," said Martin, an Orange County resident, at his April 27 press conference. "We can't allow our law enforcement personnel to be associated with known criminals or criminal associates."
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Martin continued, "He clearly knows who Rick Rizzolo is, and if he doesn't he shouldn't be Orange County's top cop."
Carona is in the fight of his political life to retain control of the $550 million Orange County Sheriff's Department, which has been racked by scandal after scandal. Vying for his third term, Carona is being challenged by Martin, LA County Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Alcarez and Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Hunt, whose duties include serving as the City of San Clemente's police chief. Hunt recently received the endorsement of OC's rank-and-file sheriff's deputies. After first being denied the endorsement of the Orange County Republican Party's Central Committee, Carona won a second bid by one vote after his top lieutenants
engineered a new committee vote.
For more on Carona's various controversies, visit the Weekly's Sheriff Scandal Archive.