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FBI Raids Office of Fired O.C. Official

Allegations of public corruption against the sheriff's former No. 2 man spark a search.

March 23, 2004|Mai Tran and Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writers

The FBI raided the office of fired Orange County Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo over the weekend as part of a probe into allegations of public corruption against him.

Armed with subpoenas, agents arrived at Sheriff's Department headquarters in Santa Ana about 8 a.m. Saturday and left about an hour later, sheriff's spokesman Jon Fleischman said Monday. He would not say what evidence was seized.

Jaramillo could not be reached Monday. His attorney, Peter Scalisi, declined to comment.

Jaramillo was fired last week as No. 2 man to Sheriff Michael S. Carona, ending a personal and professional relationship forged when Jaramillo managed Carona's first campaign for sheriff in 1998.

Once thought to be in line for Carona's job, Jaramillo has maintained that he is innocent and the victim of a witch hunt.

His dismissal came a few months after the Orange County Grand Jury began investigating his handling of criminal matters involving the teenage son of Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl.

Gregory Haidl, 18, is accused with two other youths of gang-raping a 16-year-old girl, an act they allegedly videotaped, during a party in 2002 at his father's Corona del Mar home. Jaramillo advised the younger Haidl not to talk to Newport Beach detectives, prompting a written complaint from their police chief.

In October, he allegedly tried to hide the fact that deputies caught the teen, who is out on bail awaiting trial, and two friends allegedly with a small amount of marijuana.

The FBI has confirmed that it is investigating allegations of public misconduct and corruption against Jaramillo. But the bureau would not elaborate on the nature of the charges or confirm the search of his office.

Local bail bond firms say part of the federal probe involves schemes that rely on jail inmates to steer business, sometimes by force, to certain bond agents and attorneys for a kickback.

A group that calls itself Ethical and Professional Bail Agents of California says it has been complaining to authorities in several counties, including Orange County, for years.

The FBI, sheriff's officials and Jaramillo wouldn't comment on whether his dismissal was tied to any bail bond schemes.

FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said the agency has a lower threshold for establishing probable cause to probe allegations of public corruption than in most other criminal cases.

"The reason we're so concerned [in such cases] is that the public has a right to trust their public officials," he said.

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