Thursday, December 20, 2012
Don Haidl, Central Figure in Carona Corruption Case, Dies at 61
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
A former Orange County assistant sheriff who pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns and then cooperated with the corruption prosecution of then-Sheriff Mike Carona has died in Newport Beach.
The Orange County Register reported yesterday that Don Haidl’s family issued a brief statement saying he unexpectedly died Tuesday night. He was 61.
Haidl was a millionaire picked by Carona to head the Sheriff’s Department’s reserve program. He resigned in 2005 as his son, Greg Haidl, faced charges in the rape of an unconscious 16-year-old girl. Two years later the former assistant sheriff pleaded guilty in the tax case under a deal to cooperate in the federal probe of Carona.
On its website, the Register quoted Ken Julian, who prosecuted Carona during his time as an assistant U.S. attorney, saying:
“Without Don Haidl, there would not have been a corruption case against Mike Carona.”
Julian described Haidl as down-to-earth, a blue-collar type in spite of having earned millions of dollars in the car-aucton industry.
“I will always remember Don as being a straight-shooter,” he said. “He was very direct.”
Carona is currently serving a sentence of 66 months in prison for witness tampering, based on his attempt to persuade Haidl to withhold testimony during a grand jury probe of Carona’s conduct in office.
Haidl, who was secretly cooperating with the government after being implicated himself in the investigation, served two years probation after pleading guilty to filing a fraudulent tax return, based on his failing to report as income money he took from businesses he controlled in order to pay his son’s legal fees in connection with the sexual assault charges.
The careers of Haidl and Carona began to unravel in 2002 when a videotape of Greg Haidl and two other men gang-raping a comatose woman became public.
As the story was later told in court, Carona asked then-Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo to intervene with District Attorney Tony Rackaukas on behalf of the younger Haidl. Jaramillo expressed misgivings, but ultimately succumbed to Carona’s urgings and spoke to the district attorney.
Haidl secretly recorded a conversation with Carona in August 2007 in which Carona made statements suggesting he had received cash and gifts from Haidl and that he wanted Haidl to lie to the grand jury about these transactions.
Carona’s lawyers said prosecutors behaved unethically in providing Haidl with phony legal documents indicating that records relating to the transactions were being subpoenaed by the government. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed Carona’s conviction.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company