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Carona to be imprisoned pending appeal

May 15, 2009 6:44:03 AM PDT
A federal judge ruled Friday that former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona cannot remain free on bail while he appeals his felony witness-tampering conviction.U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford issued the ruling just hours after a hearing where Carona's attorneys fought to keep him out of prison as he appeals his 5½-year sentence.

Carona must now report to prison on July 24, although Guilford left a window for his attorneys to take the matter up with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

Carona's attorneys, Jeff Rawitz and John Cline, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Carona once led the nation's fifth-largest sheriff's department. He was indicted on six felonies, including conspiracy, witness tampering and mail fraud, in a sweeping public corruption case. Federal investigators spent five years building the case, which stretched back to the three-term sheriff's first run for office in 1998.

But a jury acquitted Carona in January of all but one witness-tampering count.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Julian declined to comment.

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