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Carona coach gets 6-month jail sentence

August 29, 2008|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

The longtime martial arts instructor of former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona has been sentenced to six months in jail for threatening a golfer during a dispute that began with a wayward fairway shot at a Chino Hills golf course.

But the judge in the case agreed to allow Raymond Yi to remain free while he appeals his conviction.

Yi, who was found guilty this year of a single felony count of making a criminal threat, is seeking a new trial on grounds that a bailiff spoke with jurors during their deliberations about a gun that was a key piece of evidence in the case.

Last week, before sentencing Yi, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Gerard S. Brown agreed that there was misconduct during deliberations but found that it did not warrant a new trial.

Yi's attorney, John D. Barnett, said he believed the sentence was too stiff, though it was less than the nine months recommended by the probation department. Barnett also said he was glad the judge stayed his client's sentence until the appeal is complete, which could take six to 12 months.

Last month, Barnett filed a motion seeking a new trial after learning that a bailiff had brought the gun to jurors at their request and answered questions about how the weapon operated. Jurors apparently asked the bailiff where the shell casings ejected and about the size of the bullets.

In 2005, Yi was playing golf at the Los Serranos Golf & Country Club in Chino Hills when he hit his ball toward a fairway where a foursome was playing, according to prosecutors, then drew his gun and twice threatened the men after one of them refused to retrieve his ball.

Barnett said Yi acted in self-defense and drew his gun once, and then only after one of the golfers swung a golf club his way.

Yi has a black belt in tae kwon do and was sworn in as a reserve deputy in 2002.

His sheriff's credentials were revoked after the golf course incident -- one in a series of episodes that tarnished the department's reserve program.

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christine.hanley@latimes.com

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