Millionaire businessman Don Haidl testified Thursday that he bribed former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona and former Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo with cash payments of $1,000 a month each for more than three years, reports the Los Angeles Times. The money was handed over in envelopes to the two men near the beginning of each month, usually at Haidl’s home, although they later changed to quarterly payments of $3,000. Haidl, who became one of Carona’s assistants, has been cooperating with the prosecution and is one of the government’s key witnesses in the corruption case against the former sheriff.
Carona and his longtime mistress, Debra V. Hoffman, are charged with selling access to the sheriff’s office for cash and gifts. Carona’s wife also has been charged but awaits a separate trial. Haidl pleaded guilty to tax fraud and has been cooperating with the government for nearly two years. Jaramillo also pleaded guilty to tax charges and is also expected to testify against Carona. Haidl said that the bribes he paid to Carona and Jaramillo began after the first election in 1998 and continued until 2002. He said he decided to start paying them monthly “allowances” because they seemed to be getting too excited about all the freebies they suddenly had access to once Carona was in office. He said he feared the pair’s greed might jeopardize their plan to get Carona elected to higher office.