Supervisors dump revised standards that led to hiring of OC Sheriff Carona’s buddies

first_imgSANTA ANA – County supervisors have dumped revised standards that allowed Sheriff Mike Carona to hire two men who would not otherwise have qualified as assistant sheriffs and were later caught up in the same corruption probe that led to his indictment. The board voted unanimously to revert to earlier standards that, among other things, call for applicants to have two years of divisional command experience at the rank of captain or equivalent. The experience can be gained at another law enforcement agency, according to Supervisor John Moorlach, who introduced the measure. The previous standards were changed by the board on Dec. 15, 1998, at Carona’s request when he was first elected to office, Moorlach said. Carona is on a 60-day paid administrative leave while he works with his defense team to fight charges in a 10-count indictment that also name his wife, Deborah, and attorney Debra Hoffman, who is referred to in the indictment as Carona’s long-time mistress. Prosecutors claim the Caronas and Hoffman sold access to the sheriff’s office for tens of thousands of dollars and gifts, such as a boat, pricey watches and tickets to the World Series and a Las Vegas boxing match. Carona is not accused of using public funds for personal use. Jaramillo and Haidl both pleaded guilty last March to filing fraudulent and false tax returns in 1999 and 2002, respectively. Jaramillo also pleaded guilty to honest-services mail fraud. Jaramillo admitted that Haidl paid off Jaramillo’s lease on a Mercedes- Benz, and Jaramillo filed a series of Statements of Economic Interest that failed to report, among other things, money, gifts and loans he received from the businessman. Prosecutors said Haidl admitted making illegal payments to Carona and Jaramillo. During today’s board meeting, Supervisors Chair Chris Norby called for a report by county counsel, in two weeks, on the paid leave of absence on which Carona placed himself. The questions include: — what a leave of absence means; — can that leave of absence be suspended at any time during that 60-day period, or is it 60 days starting from the time it was announced; — what is the status of an acting sheriff or is there such a position, and — how does leave of absence differ from administrative leave. Norby said employees who go on administrative leave are normally placed on that status involuntarily, and because of that, it is given with pay. The employee, after whatever issue has been investigated, is either brought back with pay or dismissed. But a leave of absence is generally requested by an employee with the understanding it is always without pay, Norby said. “The implication always is that it is done for some personal issue that is not covered by the employee agreement, Norby said. “If a department head grants themselves a leave of absence, they’re acting both as the requestor and the grantor, and it adds an interesting twist.” Norby asked that the county counsel explore the legal obligation of the county in terms of payment during leaves of absence and how it might apply to an elected official. “Certainly we’re getting e-mails and phone calls daily on this, asking that the board take appropriate action, and whatever appropriate action has to be limited by what our legal responsibilities and our limitations, as well,” Norby said. After the meeting, Moorlach reiterated his preference for Carona to resign, but said he “would be more than happy to sign a recall petition” if it comes to that. He called it “the honorable thing to do.” “That would allow us to run the department and get someone to get it back in shape” by improving departmental morale, he said. For more news and observations about crime in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, check out the Daily News’ crime blog by clicking here.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre Carona told the board then that the changes were minor; would facilitate a smooth transition for the sheriff’s department; and allow the new sheriff the necessary autonomy to select his executive management team from the broadest pool of qualified candidates. Neither George Jaramillo and Don Haidl, who he chose for assistant sheriff posts, would have qualified under the previous standards. Jaramillo had served as a sergeant at the Garden Grove Police Department. He was promoted to lieutenant to settle litigation stemming from a discrimination complaint, but retired as part of the settlement without ever serving one day as a lieutenant. Haidl, a wealthy businessman, had no law enforcement background. He was named assistant sheriff in charge of the reserve program, but was not paid, Moorlach said. The board approved the changes unanimously, and they go into effect immediately, Moorlach said. last_img

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