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Don Haidl, former associate of ex-O.C. Sheriff Carona, unlikely to go to prison on tax charge

January 25, 2010 |  3:22 pm

Newport Beach businessman Don Haidl, a one-time assistant to convicted former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona, probably will be given probation, a $40,000 fine and ordered to perform community service rather than go to prison for tax fraud under a preliminary opinion released today.

U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford said he wanted further details from the probation department about what types of community service Haidl would be eligible for before making the sentence final. Haidl is due back in court March 15.

Haidl was accused by federal prosecutors of filing a false income tax return in a scheme to help pay his son’s legal bills after Gregory Haidl was charged along with two others of sexually assaulting an apparently unconscious 16-year-old girl and videotaping the incident.

Don Haidl pleaded guilty to tax fraud and agreed to cooperate in the government corruption case against Carona in exchange for the prosecutor’s recommendation of leniency.

"Had you not cooperated so fully and thoroughly, you would be doing jail time," Guilford told Haidl.

"I apologize to this court, I apologize to the public, I apologize to my family ... I accept full responsibility for everything I've done," Haidl said today in court.

Haidl, who was appointed assistant sheriff by Carona, recorded the former sheriff in conversation and later testified during a well-publicized trial that he bribed Carona with cash and luxuries in exchange for access to the Sheriff’s Department.

Carona was acquitted last year of all but one charge, witness tampering. He is appealing that conviction.

Gregory Haidl was released from prison in 2008, after serving about three years of a six-year sentence on the sexual assault conviction.

-- Paloma Esquivel in Orange County