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Calif. sheriff faces charges of corruption

Wed., Oct. 31, 2007, midnight

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County’s sheriff has been charged with accepting bribes in exchange for political favors and pressing a witness to lie as authorities investigated whether he used his office to enrich himself.

The case against Michael S. Carona purportedly involves more than $350,000 in cash and gifts, as well as a “get out of jail free” card for a wealthy appointee whose son was arrested twice, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday. Also named in the indictment were Carona’s wife and a woman identified as his longtime girlfriend.

Carona rejected the allegations Tuesday and said he would not step down from the nation’s fifth-largest sheriff’s department.

The indictment alleges that the crimes began during the 1998 campaign, in which Carona was first elected to lead the force in this county of about 3 million people.

Carona, 52, was expected to surrender to federal authorities today in Santa Ana, said U.S. attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek. Also expected to surrender were his wife, Deborah, and attorney Debra Victoria Hoffman, who was identified in court papers as his girlfriend.


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