Orange County, CA Sheriff Sentenced to 66 Months

Former Orange County Sheriff Joe Carona got whacked with 66 months for witness tampering today in federal court. While he was acquitted of many counts at the four month trial that resulted from lengthy corruption investigation, including counts he misused his office, the judge had no patience for the tampering.

“Lying will not be tolerated in this courtroom, especially by law enforcement, especially by the leading law enforcement official in the county," said [Judge Andrew]Guilford, who held up a copy of the book “The Importance of Being Honest” and read a passage to Carona.


The allegations were ugly:

Witness testimony exposed raw details of his relationship with a longtime mistress, complete with tales of a love nest, Vegas getaways and secret bank accounts. Witnesses talked of bribes handed over in cash-stuffed envelopes, hidden cameras in the Sheriff’s Department and reserve badges for donors and the politically connected.

...Jurors said that although they believed Carona had accepted cash and gifts, the statute of limitations prevented them from considering many of the alleged acts underlying the case.

The evidence in the tampering count on which Corona was convicted was his own words on tape.

At other points in the tape, Carona vows that he will deny receiving money from Haidl, and that they can track each other's testimony before the grand jury through their attorneys.

“Your story is my story,” Carona tells Haidl.

The Judge did show Carona a little mercy: He let him stay out on bail pending appeal until July 24 so he can attend his son's graduation.

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    I'm not minimizing 66 months (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Bemused on Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 08:30:52 AM EST
      but this case helps highlight the irrationality of sentencing in the federal system. That's quite similar to the sentences imposed daily across the country in federal courts on  relatively petty drug dealers.

      Regardless of one's views about drug laws, does anyone belive that a case such as this involving conduct that undermines the broadest scope of administration of justice across a across one of the largest counties in the USA involves harms roughly equivalent to that of a guy who sells a 1/4 ounce of crack? Does anyone believe that the relative stations in the community of the typical low level dealer and the chief law enforcement officer of a huge jurisdiction present grounds for similar sentences even if the harms caused  were thought to be similar in scope?

      Do any of the factors you think should be considered in determining appropriate punishment ( including but not limited to, nature and seriousness of the offense, characteristics of the defendant, need to protect the public, general and specific deterrence, just punishment and promoting respect for the law) provide a basis for public corruption of this nature to result in punishment similar to that meted out to petty drug dealers and the like?

      If the common current punishments for low level  drug dealers are close to appropriate what would be appropriate punishment for this type of offender?