Judge: Carona's Witness-Tampering Conviction Stands

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a bid by former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona to have his witness-tampering conviction thrown out on a claim that he was charged under the wrong statute.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford also denied two other motions aimed at undoing the jury verdict, including a motion for acquittal or a new trial and a motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment. He also denied any pending motions for mistrial.

"The jury was presented with abundant facts and made its verdict, which included a guilty verdict on one count," Guilford wrote. "The Court will not now alter or arrest that guilty verdict by finely parsing language unnecessarily."

The denials clear the way for Carona's sentencing, set for April 27.

The probation department has recommended Carona serve 6 1/2 years in prison on the single count. His attorneys have said they believe he could receive probation.

Carona attorney John Cline did not immediately return a call seeking comment after the judge ruled.

A federal jury convicted Carona in January on the single count of witness tampering and acquitted him of five other felony counts, including conspiracy, mail fraud and another count of witness tampering.

Prosecutors had alleged that Carona, once head of the nation's fifth-largest sheriff's department, rewarded a millionaire businessman with the post of assistant sheriff in exchange for gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The government alleged that a wide-reaching conspiracy also involved Carona's wife, Deborah, and former mistress, Debra Hoffman.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Carona's wife and Hoffman after the former lawman was acquitted on similar counts.

Carona, once dubbed "America's sheriff" by CNN's Larry King for helping put away a child murderer, was indicted in October 2007 after a long federal probe.

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