Orange County, Ca., Sheriff Mike Carona has been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a lengthy investigation into allegations that he had misused his office for financial gain, the Los Angeles Times reports. A one-time close friend of Carona, former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo, has pleaded guilty in the case. Jaramillo admitted that he had collected cash and gifts worth about $45,000 and had filed false income tax returns concealing the income. Jaramillo is cooperating with prosecutors in the continuing investigation of Carona.
The indictment marks a spectacular fall for the 52-year-old sheriff, who five years ago was widely seen as a rising star in California Republican politics. Carona received wide attention after he led the search for the killer of a 5-year-old girl, Samantha Runnion, whose kidnapping and murder captivated the nation. In the months after that case, Carona was often mentioned as a possible lieutenant governor candidate on a slate with Arnold Schwarzenegger.