A law enforcement network that gathers intelligence on organized crime has cut off the Orange County, Ca., Sheriff’s Department because of the sheriff’s association with various businessmen, including a Las Vegas strip club owner with reputed mob ties now serving time for racketeering, the Los Angeles Times reports. Sheriff Michael Carona minimized the effect of the suspension and said he had never heard of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit until the chairman contacted him last year about the potential suspension.
Carona downplayed his relationship with topless-bar owner Rick Rizzolo, whom the Intelligence Unit identified as one of several individuals who associate with the sheriff and “have pled guilty to or are suspected of involvement in criminal activity  including traditional organized crime activity.” The intelligence network, a 51-year-old professional association that collects and shares intelligence on organized crime, terrorism and gambling, notified its membership of the decision in an internal memo issued in June. The group comprises about 250 police agencies in four countries. Last year, the OC Weekly published photos showing Rizzolo with a drink in one hand and his other arm draped around a uniformed Carona at a restaurant. Rizzolo contributed the maximum $1,500 to the sheriff’s 2006 election campaign.