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CALIFORNIA BRIEFING / SANTA ANA

Prosecutor to stay on Carona case

October 28, 2008|Christine Hanley

Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona has lost his bid to have a prosecutor removed from his corruption case because of the attorney's role in the wiretapping of a government informant.

Carona's attorneys had argued that Assistant U.S. Atty. Brett Sagel should be disqualified because he was the best witness regarding a bogus subpoena that former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl took with him when he met with Carona and secretly taped conversations.

The defense attorneys argued that they were entitled to call Sagel to testify, and under the rules of the court he could not be both a witness and advocate in the same case.

But in a ruling made public Monday, U.S. Dist. Judge Andrew J. Guilford said that Carona's attorneys relied on the wrong case law in their motion. Guilford further explained that "Haidl, not Sagel, was present at the execution of the ruse" and that if the defense wanted to call someone to testify about the subpoena, they could call on one of the investigators.

Carona is scheduled to go on trial this week on charges that he misused the powers of his office in a conspiracy to enrich himself and others, including Haidl. Carona is being tried with his former mistress, Debra Hoffman. His wife will be tried separately.

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