Mike Carona Still Isn't Serving as a Cautionary Tale for SoCal Law Enforcement

Illustration by Bill Hunt
Policing authority is an ego boost. Just ask Mike Carona. Around a year before the FBI arrested the Orange County sheriff for corruption in 2007, Carona showed up at a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department facility with a four- or five-SUV entourage. South Central-hardened LA deputies who observed the arrival assumed a Secret Service detail had accompanied then-Vice President Dick Cheney. But OC's top cop--a glad-handing politician and career bureaucrat who'd never made a single arrest in his life--jumped out of a government vehicle amid heavy guard, a scene that prompted laughter at the absurd grandiosity.

From pampered office-holder to convicted felon (circa 2009), Carona's fall is now the stuff of history. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford issued a term of 66 months in prison and, in one of the most noble and necessary stern sentencing lectures in county history, slammed the disgraced cop for thinking he was above the law. Lying officers weren't tolerated in his courtroom, Guilford told a man who clearly didn't think he would serve a minute in prison. Following his conviction and on the way to the penitentiary, Carona earned a second identity: Inmate 45335-112.

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Former Employees Reportedly Allege Unethical Practices at Orange County Animal Care Shelter

Photo by Vickie Chang/OC Weekly
Don't taze me, bro!
A television news investigation has reportedly turned up "a number of former employees" alleging unethical practices at the Orange County Animal Care shelter in Orange.

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Orange County's Dirty, Philandering, Christian Ex-Sheriff Mike Carona is Home from Prison

Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
Mike Carona meets the press after being found guilty in 2009.
With apologies to Larry King, America's Incarcerated Sheriff has been released from federal prison. Mike Carona, the former Orange County lawman the veteran broadcaster dubbed "America's Sheriff" after appearing on King's longtime CNN show to call out a child murderer, is now back home after serving 52 months of a 66-month sentence for felony witness tampering. Carona, who served most of his sentence at a low-security prison in Littleton, Colorado, was released from a federal prison medical center in Lexington, Kentucky, he had been transferred to, according to officials.

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Prosecutors: Carlos Bustamante's Sexual Improprieties Date Back To The 90s

Bustamante: How was I to know women wouldn't find me irresistible?
In his attempt to evade convictions on multiple pervert-related criminal charges, Carlos Bustamante--the ex-Santa Ana city councilman and $179,000 a year county executive--is expected by prosecutors to employ a trial defense that could be summed up in a single word: ignorance.

In other words, Bustamante--a married father with several kids--will hope future jurors believe he did not understand there could be a problem by subjecting six female government employees to unwelcomed kissing, hugging, fondling and sex demands--or that they would be disgusted by him masturbating in their presence during work.

But the onetime Republican Party rising star and a small project real estate developer who'd dreamed of becoming a county supervisor now may face a hurdle denying criminal intent about his alleged 2009-2011 activities.

Prosecutor Aleta Bryant and her investigators have obtained evidence that Bustamante's abusive conduct with women dates back to 1998 when he worked as a California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) investigator busting businesses serving booze to teenagers.

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Santa Ana Opens OC's First Bicycle Huts

Hut to it!
Just in time for Bike to Work Week, the City of Santa Ana announced it is the first city in Orange County to install integrated modular bike huts. What is an integrated modular bike hut? It's an enclosed place where you can safely store your bike--for a fee, of course.

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Recall Threat Gets Judge Kelly's Irish Up!

The Daily Journal (used with permission)
Don't hate on Judge M. Marc Kelly because he's Irish.
Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly has responded publicly for the first time to the recall campaign being mounted against him for what has been perceived to be a light sentence given to the 20-year-old rapist of a child--with Hizzoner managing to even work in his beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish into his plea to voters.

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Did a Serbian-Born Performance Artist Get a San Clemente High School Principal Fired?

Music Box Films
Here's looking at you, Marina Abramovic.
Did the Serbian-born "Grandmother of Performance Art" get a San Clemente High School principal fired without even knowing it?

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Sheriff's Department Ends War Against Fired Deputy, A Navy Cross Recipient

Taking leave from his deputy job at the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), Scott Montoya volunteered for U.S. Marine duty after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, fought in the 2003 Battle of Baghdad and returned home garnering the prestigious Navy Cross for repeated acts of combat bravery.

But Montoya's longest war--the 10-year one OCSD waged against him--is finally over.

Despite angry threats to do otherwise, county officials finally decided to accept a jury verdict and a federal judge's rulings that the agency illegally discriminated against the fired deputy in bizarre retaliation for his military service.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) bans public and private employers from discriminating against soldiers.

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Recent Proof of Prosecutorial Misconduct Mirrors OCDA's Bad Old Days


After a Friday night of eating pizza, drinking booze, dancing and smoking hashish with friends in Laguna Beach, 20-year-old Ginger Lorraine Fleischli disappeared. Two days later, farm workers discovered Fleischli's corpse in a sleeping bag buried in an Irvine field, just 10 miles away. Her killer used a knife to stab her five times in the head near her right ear. DNA analysis also showed she'd had intercourse shortly before her death.

The gruesome, Sept. 12, 1981, crime didn't originally garner much attention outside of Southern California, but 33 years later, the case still reverberates in courthouses and law schools throughout the nation. But its notoriety didn't originate from outstanding law-enforcement work. To win convictions against two men--including the death penalty for one defendant--an Orange County prosecutor employed tactics abhorrent to critics across the political spectrum.

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Anonymous Jury, Special Federal Security Set For Mexican Mafia Trial

To shackle or not to shackle?

That was the question U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna pondered for the scheduled October trial against Peter Ojeda, the alleged Orange County boss of the Mexican Mafia, and several associates.

Lawyers for the defendants argued that shackling wasn't necessary, claiming their clients have no history of disrupting judicial proceedings, and there would be a risk of a mistrial if future jurors observe the extra security measures and become unduly frightened by the defendants.

But federal prosecutors agreed with Selna's proposal, noting that the Mexican Mafia has a long history of violence, even murder--and that there will likely be intense animosity between defendants and government witnesses who testify inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.

"The facts of this case warrant the use of leg shackles," Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Keenan told the judge.

After consulting the U.S. Marshal, however, Selna decided against using shackles or handcuffs. He wants Ojeda and at least one other in-custody co-defendant to be strapped into their seats with a special security lap belt.

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