O.C. Supervisors to replace Sheriff Carona

SANTA ANA Carona stepped down from his position Monday to focus on his federal corruption trial.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss whether or not Michael Carona properly chose his interim replacement Monday. The Board will also question why Carona fired Assistant Sheriff Dan Martini shortly before resigning.

Responding only to why he resigned, Carona says he wants to focus on his defense strategy and says that his resignation is in no way an admission of guilt.

"I needed to move away from those restrictions so I could put together the legal team and bring those resources to bear so that I can fight this case and, again, be vindicated," said Carona.

Carona says another reason for stepping down was to get free legal representation. Carona faces several federal charges including conspiracy, mail fraud, and witness tampering. He was charged back in Oct. in a federal case that accuses him of pocketing nearly $700,000 in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for political favors. His wife and alleged mistress are also charged in the federal indictment.

With Carona out of the picture, the Board of Supervisors now has to select an interim replacement. Typically the undersheriff would take over, but Jo Ann Galisky declined the post and took a demotion to assistant sheriff.

Carona then appointed Assistant Sheriff Jack Anderson to the post of interim sheriff but fired Assistant Sheriff Dan Martini.

The selection process for a new interim sheriff will most likely take a bit longer than usual due to these circumstances.

"The undersheriff took a demotion to assistant sheriff," said John Moorlach, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman. "We have four assistant sheriffs. So now how do you select of those four is the interim?"

Anderson will replace Carona until the Board of Supervisors appoints an interim themselves.

Board members are considering a few choices including Paul Walters, a Santa Ana Police Chief who ran against Carona in 1998 and lost; Ralph Martin, a commander with L.A. County Sheriff who ran against Carona two years ago and lost; and Bill Hunt, a Sheriff's Lieutenant who also ran in 2006 and placed second to Carona.

The Board begins meeting Tuesday to decide who to choose to replace Carona through the year 2011.

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