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Secret recordings emerge in Carona case

July 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Racial slurs, obscenities and sexual comments: graphic details of a secret recording as investigators build a corruption case against former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona.The graphic comments are in a transcript filed by Carona's defense team. They're seeking to exclude the remarks from evidence at his upcoming trial. The legal battle is being fought in Santa Ana.

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Mike Carona's attorney filed the motion to try to keep a portion of secretly recorded conversations out of court and away from a jury. The conversations, according to the attorney, are about two minutes long. Carona makes some graphic racial and sexual remarks.

Portions of a secretly recorded conversation paint a different picture of the former Orange County Sheriff.

Mike Carona's one-time friend Don Haidl taped Carona without him knowing, after making a deal to help prosecutors gather evidence against the 53-year-old in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

In three tape-recorded conversations last year Carona casually uses the "F" word. He uses the "N" word when he's talking about small amounts of money, substituting "small" with the word "N."

On July 15, 2007, Carona talks about how he doesn't think he's done anything wrong and can't understand why the federal investigation is continuing. Carona talks to Haidl about how he's had a blessed life.

Carona: "I've met millionaires, billionaires, I've traveled on personal airplanes, and I never shook anybody down for any (blank), so ... Not that I haven't, you know, drank great wine and had great booze and got some, you know, phenomenal (blank) along the way." That last part referring to a derogatory term for sex.

Carona's attorney, Jeffrey Rawitz, said the graphic racial and sexual comments make up about two minutes out of more than nine hours of secret tape recordings.

Jeffrey Rawitz filed a motion with the court to try to exclude that portion of tape from being used at trial, saying, "Mike is ashamed and embarrassed by the language he and Haidl used, but it has no relevance to any issue in the case and should be excluded. People who heard the language could be offended by it and might hold it against Mike."

Earlier this year prosecutors released portions of the wiretap transcripts that show Carona allegedly plotting with Haidl to get their stories straight about gifts and money Carona received from the businessman.

Carona has pleaded not guilty to federal public corruption, conspiracy and witness-tampering charges. His trial is set to begin August 26.

Before the case goes to trial, the judge has to rule on a number of motions, including the one filed by the defense to try to keep the graphic comments out of court. The decision could come in a few weeks.

 

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