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Carona free despite scheduled surrender

July 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona was due to surrender to authorities Friday, but remained free while waiting for a ruling from a federal appeals court.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was to decide whether Carona can remain free during the appeal of his conviction for witness tampering.

Carona's surrender date was tied to when the court issues a ruling. Without a ruling, Carona was not obligated to surrender.

The 53-year-old Carona was to begin serving a 5 1/2 year term at an undisclosed location.

Prosecutors asked the court to imprison Carona during the appeals process, calling him a danger to society because of a lack of remorse.

They say Carona had a celebratory demeanor after a jury acquitted him of five of six corruption-related counts on January 16.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Rawitz said Carona presented no danger to the public.

The witness-tampering charge stemmed from a secretly recorded conversation Carona had on August 13, 2007, with Don Haidl.

Prosecutors argued that Carona accepted more than $350,000 in cash and gifts from the wealthy businessman, in return for making him an assistant sheriff.

Carona served as sheriff from January 1999 through January 2008, when he stepped down to concentrate on his defense.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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