Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

“America’s Sheriff” Begins Serving Federal Prison Sentence

In January 2011, Michael S. Carona, the former sheriff of Orange County, California, turned himself in to prison officials at the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in Littleton, Colorado to begin serving a 5 1/2-year sentence following his 2009 conviction for witness tampering. [See: PLN, Nov. 2009, p.38].

Carona, 55, was elected sheriff of Orange County in 1999. He gained his proverbial 15 minutes of fame for his role in investigating the 2002 kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. CNN talking head Larry King dubbed him “America’s Sheriff,” and Carona emerged as a bright star in state Republican politics.

Yet according to federal prosecutors, the seeds of Carona’s downfall had been sown a year before his election as sheriff. In 1998, they alleged, he solicited help from multi-millionaire businessman Don Haidl in laundering some $30,000 in campaign contributions.

Ultimately, Carona became the target of a sweeping public corruption grand jury investigation. He was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering, the latter stemming from a 2007 incident in which he attempted to persuade Haidl, who by then had become a government informant, to provide testimony before the grand jury consistent with his own. In an ironic twist, that was the only charge of which Carona was ultimately convicted. [See: PLN, Feb. 2009, p.1; July 2008, p.30].

Carona’s appeal of his conviction was denied by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 6, 2011. See: United States v. Carona, 630 F.3d 917 (9th Cir. 2011). Said U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford, who presided over Carona’s trial, “I believe justice has been done.”

Source: Associated Press

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

United States v. Carona