NOVEMBER 01, 2007
A popular elected county official with plans to run as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in California has been indicted on federal corruption charges for illegally using his public office for financial gain.
Considered a rising political star in California, Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona may instead face prison time. A 10-count federal indictment says the three-term sheriff broke the law by failing to disclose that he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts for himself, his wife and his former longtime mistress.
The gifts include cash payments of as much as $112,000, a boat, a trip to Lake Tahoe and ringside tickets to a coveted boxing event at an upscale Las Vegas resort. The indictment also says that Carona corruptly used his office to lobby county supervisors to change the hiring process in order to appoint an unqualified friend assistant sheriff.
The county’s former assistant sheriff, George Jaramillo, has already pleaded guilty in the scandal and is cooperating with prosecutors in the case against his former boss. Jaramillo admitted that he took gifts worth about $45,000 and that he subsequently filed false income tax returns to conceal the income.
Carona has been under a negative spotlight for years. Shortly after taking office he deputized dozens of friends, relatives and political contributors by issuing badges and concealed-weapons permits without conducting background checks or ensuring that they had proper training.
Earlier this year the sheriff paid a $15,000 fine to California’s Fair Political Practices Commission for billing his campaign committee more than $100,000 in non-itemized expenses that he listed as loans.
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