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Carona to surrender by Tuesday to begin prison sentence

Former Orange County sheriff had appealed 5½-year prison sentence for witness tampering

January 22, 2011|By Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times
  • Former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona has been free on bail pending the outcome of his initial appeal.
Former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona has been free on bail pending… (Mark Boster/Los Angeles…)

Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona plans to surrender to authorities by Tuesday to begin serving his 5½-year prison sentence for witness tampering.

Carona will serve his time at a low-security federal prison in Littleton, Colo., a Denver suburb, prosecutors say.

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court upheld Carona's 2009 conviction on one felony count that stemmed from a secretly taped conversation in which Carona urged then-Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl to lie to a grand jury investigating his administration.

Haidl, who was convicted of tax fraud in an unrelated case, was the government's star witness at Carona's trial.

During the two-month trial in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, prosecutors alleged that Carona accepted secret cash payments, had numerous illicit sexual affairs and provided campaign contributors with badges and concealed weapons licenses.

Carona's wife, Deborah Carona, and ex-mistress, Debra Hoffman, had faced related charges for benefiting from his schemes, but the charges were dropped after Carona's acquittal on five corruption-related charges, including bribe-taking, mail fraud and conspiracy.

On Thursday, Carona's lawyers petitioned the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision or have the case reheard before a full 11-judge panel. The attorneys have unsuccessfully argued that prosecutors violated state law by recording Carona despite knowing that he already had legal representation.

Carona has been free on bail pending the outcome of his initial appeal. Prosecutors intended to ask U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford to remand Carona into custody at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Carona's lawyers preempted that by informing the court Wednesday that the former sheriff and onetime rising political star would surrender at the prison before then.

mike.anton@latimes.com

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