Carona pleads not guilty

The L.A. Times is reporting that disgraced O.C. Sheriff Mike Carona, his wife and is former mistress have all plead not guilty to the charges they is facing in the wake of last week’s federal indictment.

Here are excerpts from the Times article:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Marc Goldman, who entered the pleas on behalf of the defendants, set a trial date for Dec. 18. The defendants were in court.

The federal case against Carona accuses the county’s top lawman of involvement in a broad conspiracy to sell access to his office for tens of thousands of dollars and gifts such as a boat, pricey watches and tickets to the World Series and a Las Vegas boxing match.

Though Carona has pledged to fight the charges and remain in office, there has been growing pressure on him to step aside, or at least turn over the department’s day-to-day operations to someone else. County supervisors are expected to discuss Carona and the department at their regular meeting Tuesday.

Among those who have called for Carona to rethink his immediate future is Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, who sent a letter Friday to the Board of Supervisors asking it to pass a resolution asking the sheriff to step aside and appoint a qualified member of his staff to take over.

“He will clearly be required to spend his full time and attention on matters involving this indictment,” Rackauckas wrote.

But Carona has been steadfast in his desire to remain head of the state’s second-largest sheriff’s department while he fights the allegations.

“I am a good sheriff,” he said in an interview last week.

The O.C. Register reported the same story.

Here are some excerpts from the Register article:

The three-term lawman told reporters this morning after his arraignment that he had been waiting to make his plea since a federal indictment was unsealed last week.

“In America, all of us as Americans, even the sheriff of Orange County, has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. I ask that you to take that into consideration,” he said.

Carona also said that federal investigators never told him about the allegations or discussed the allegations with him before the indictment and that he looks forward to telling his side of the story.

The sheriff reiterated previous assertions that he would not step down and said the command structure of his department was such that it would operate well while he fights the charges.

“I am not resigning because I am not guilty,” Carona said.

He ended the news conference by thanking the media for being there.

“God bless you guys,” he said.

The indictment alleges that Carona created a broad conspiracy beginning in 1998, when he first ran for sheriff. He faces seven counts that accuse him of using the office to “enrich” himself and his friends, accepting at least $350,000, along with high-priced gifts, tickets to exclusive sporting events, a $15,000 Cartier watch for his wife and loans for Hoffman.

In addition to the corruption charges, Carona faces two counts of witness tampering, for what is described in the indictment as an attempt to persuade former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl to lie to the federal grand jury. Haidl, a former friend and major fundraiser, apparently surreptitiously recorded two conversations with Carona for investigators.

It is funny that Carona would ask God to bless the media. In the past he has refused to talk to reporters from the L.A. Times and O.C. Weekly. Now he is dealing with the national press as his career crashes and burns.

I also don’t see how Carona can plead that he is innocent when there are recordings of him asking his former Assistant Sheriff, Don Haidl, to lie to the federal grand jury.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.