A onetime assistant sheriff and trusted aide of convicted former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona was sentenced Monday to 27 months in prison for scheming to defraud the public of honest services and filing a false tax return.
In a voice husky with emotion, George Jaramillo apologized to the court and said, "I am here to say that I am profoundly sorry for what I have done. While I did not set out to commit crimes, my cavalier and irresponsible mode . . . was criminal."
Carona appointed Jaramillo as assistant sheriff in 1999 and fired him in March 2004, after rumors spread that a federal investigation of the Sheriff's Department was underway.
Jaramillo pleaded guilty in March 2007 to honest services mail fraud and filing a false tax return, and agreed to cooperate with the government in its investigation. Carona was convicted in January of felony witness tampering and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. That case is being appealed.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford scolded Jaramillo for not accepting responsibility for his actions, ordered him to surrender in 45 days and imposed a $50,000 fine, as recommended by the probation office.
"I need to see that you fully consider yourself responsible for the conduct you've admitted to, and frankly I don't see that," Guilford said. "After a plea agreement, I need more than, 'I'll be the first to admit I made mistakes.' "
Guilford also ruled that Jaramillo should not receive any cash from the county in a civil case regarding his unlawful termination by Carona. Jaramillo said he was wrongly fired after telling Corona he had misused county property.
During the more than three-hour hearing Monday, defense attorney Brent Romney took issue with the probation department's recommendation of prison time and its "value judgments" on Jaramillo's seemingly lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors had recommended three years probation, including 10 months home confinement, but Assistant U.S. Atty. Brett Sagel changed that to prison time after the defense's inadequate response to the pre-sentencing report.
Jaramillo did not comment after sentencing.
Romney said he will review the plea agreement to see if they will appeal.