Sheriff Mike Carona, facing federal criminal corruption charges, turned himself in early this morning at the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in downtown Santa Ana. Later in the afternoon, Carona, along with his wife Debbie and mistress Debra Hoffman, appeared in the courtroom of Judge Robert Block for a pre-arraignment hearing . . . aaahhh, you don’t wanna read that stuff.
And I don’t wanna write it, either. Seriously, you can find all that blah-blah somewhere else (excepting maybe the OC Register, still reeling from getting totally scooped by the LA Times when the Carona indictment story broke).
I’d rather scrawl about the odd gent in the highwater pants and football T-shirt—apparently a court regular—who chatted up a bailiff just outside Judge Robert Block’s courtroom. The bailiff seemed to know him:
“I’m here for the Carona case!” said the guy, excitedly. “I shook his hand this morning!”
“Did you wash it?” asked his bailiff buddy.
So the coming Carona trial has its first groupie.
Speaking of groups, can the future ex-sheriff get any skeevier? It was really bizarre seeing the Carona Threesome sitting so close to one another in the courtroom: Mikey-Mike, looking dour and depressed, mostly, but occasionally chuckling when conferring with his attorney, Dean Steward. His blonded-out wife Debbie, seated just on the other side of Steward, was someone I had to feel for—never once did she so much glance at her hubby, instead frequently averting her eyes at the floor and turning her head at the door, as if she longed to get the holy fuck out of that room as fast as she could. And behind them both was Mistress Hoffman, her slicked-back blonde hair exposing a shock of dark roots (couldn’t tell if she had on her $1,500 St. John’s Knit suit, name-dropped in the indictment).
And why, through the whole proceeding, did I never see their hands? BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL EFFING HANDCUFFED!
What else did we particularly enjoy? Well, there was Judge Block’s opening line, when he bellowed with Thor-like authority at Carona, “You are here as a criminal defendant charged with crimes against the United States,” which alone pretty much dooms his political career, even if he gets off.
We liked how Steward fought for Carona to be allowed to keep his gun, which US attorney Brett Sagel recommended Carona be forced to surrender. Steward won that round, arguing that Carona regularly receives threats on his life. (Note to Carona: Don’t be such a pussy. Back when I was the Weekly’s music editor, I regularly had bands threatening to bash my head in with a two-by-four.)
We liked the guy roaming around the sidewalk outside the courthouse who sarcastically bellowed at the assembled media, “Corrupt cops in Orange County?!? That’s not news!”
We liked how Carona and his wife left the building, holding hands (see, future jurors? He looooves his wife! No mistresses here!), then hopping inside a big-ass black Ford SUV with tinted windows, which had us wondering if this was the Carona’s own private vehicle, or something more, y’know, government/taxpayer owned (whatever it was, the plate number is 5WZN735).
We liked—okay, we laughed, snickered, guffawed—how Carona’s legal team described that the charges against him were “a bunch of baloney,” that the court is “overselling its case,” and that there was “absolutely no chance he’ll resign.” Who’s paying for Carona’s defense? That “hasn’t been worked out yet,” Steward said, but he assured that it wasn’t going to be the county.
We liked how hapless the media throng seemed to be, and resisted the temptation to don our SCOTT MOXLEY IS GOD T-shirts. After all—toot-toot!—Moxley and the Weekly have been after Carona literally since the day he took office in 1999. And we loooooved smugly watching everybody else play catch-up.
And hey, a big shout-out to Pete Weitzner, who sat just a Janine Kahn away from me. We’re sure Daybreak OC will be alllll over this story—about as much as they’ve already been!
The Carona Threesome—or Foursome, if you count the Little Sheriff—will be formally arraigned on Monday, Nov. 5.