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Former O.C. Sheriff Carona wants prison sentence cut in half

November 15, 2012 |  6:25 pm


This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

Attorneys for former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona -- now serving 66 months in federal prison for witness tampering -- have filed a motion to cut the former lawman's sentence by nearly half.

In the motion, Carona's attorneys argued that the sentence handed down in 2009 by U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford should be adjusted after changes to the law. 

"Carona seeks relief on the ground that the Court erred in determining his sentence by using honest services fraud as the 'underlying offense' under United States sentencing guidelines," his lawyers wrote in the motion filed earlier this month. They added that "the conduct at issue did not constitute honest services fraud or any other federal offense."

Carona was acquitted in 2009 on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and one count of witness tampering. But the jury found him guilty of another count of witness tampering after he was recorded as he tried to persuade his former assistant sheriff to lie to a grand jury investigating allegations of corruption. 

Carona was widely considered to be a rising political star at the time of his indictment.

The former sheriff began serving his 5 1/2-year prison sentence in January 2011 at a federal correctional facility near Littleton, Colo. His lawyers, according to the motion, are seeking to reduce his time to 24 to 30 months.

Brett Sagel, the federal prosecutor on the case, said in an emailed statement Thursday that the government contends "Carona's filing lacks merit both factually and legally."

Carona's attorney, Brian A. Sun, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

[For the Record, Nov. 16, 10:34 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly quoted Brett Sagel as saying: "Carolina's filing lacks merit both factually and legally." It should have said, "Carona's filing."]


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-- Rick Rojas

Photo: Former sheriff Michael Carona outside federal court .