CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Judge Refuses to Toss Former Sheriff's Conviction

Judge rejects Carona's move to toss conviction
The former sheriff will be sentenced on April 27.
The Orange County Register by RACHANEE SRISAVASDI -March 31, 2009

SANTA ANA, CA — A federal judge refused today to undo the felony conviction of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, rejecting his assertion that the government engaged in misconduct before a grand jury and finding that the evidence warranted the trial jury's decision. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford denied three defense motions brought by Carona's defense team, meaning that Carona's sentencing will go forward on April 27. In one of the highest-profile public corruption trials ever in Orange County, a panel of 11 men and one woman convicted the former lawman in January of felony witness tampering. Carona was acquitted of five other counts – conspiracy, three charges of mail fraud and one other count of witness tampering. Carona, the county's sheriff for nine years before stepping down in January 2008, faces a punishment ranging from probation to several years behind bars. A federal probation office report recommends that Guilford sentence Carona to 78 months in prison. Carona's lawyers have said they will ask for a probation-only sentence. In his decision today, Guilford rejected allegations by Carona's attorneys that the government "overreached and abused the grand jury process" when obtaining an indictment in January 2008.

Defense attorneys wanted Guilford to dismiss the criminal indictment in its entirety. They alleged a federal agent gave misleading testimony, and that the grand jury wasn't properly instructed on credibility concerns regarding government witnesses and Carona's former assistant sheriffs, Donald Haidl and George Jaramillo. "While there may have been some flaws in the government's presentation before the grand jury, the Court cannot find that the government engaged in outrageous misconduct in this case and declines to dismiss the Fourth Superseding Indictment,'' Guilford wrote The judge also wrote that the trial jury had enough evidence to convict Carona of witness tampering, mentioning one of the secretly recorded conversations between Carona and Haidl – the government's key evidence during the trial. Some jurors, in interviews after the verdict, said they spend several hours during their six days of deliberations listening to the conversations in order to come to the conviction. "Here, the tape recordings of the August 13, 2007, conversation between Carona and Donald Haidl present ample evidence of witness tampering …" Guilford wrote. "The Court finds that a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and it declines to overturn the jury's verdict in this case." The judge said the jury "was presented with abundant facts and made its verdict." During a post-trial hearing on the motions Monday Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Julian cited the recordings as evidence of Carona's criminal culpability. "They (jurors) heard on tape Mike Carona saying, 'What you say becomes thetruth,'" the federal prosecutor said. John D. Cline, one of Carona's attorneys, countered that the judge should throw out the case, alleging that Haidl was coached by the government. Cline said Carona was "convicted of an offense he didn't commit." "In those circumstances, he's entitled to an acquittal,'' he added.

No comments: