Jurors who acquitted former Orange County, Ca., Sheriff Michael Carona of five of six felonies Friday were most swayed by federal judge Andrew Guilford’s instruction that they must keep an eye on the calendar, reports the Los Angeles Times. Of the 64 acts of corruption alleged by prosecutors, only a handful fell within the five-year federal statute of limitations. Guilford instructed jurors to consider only those acts alleged to have occurred since late October 2002 — five years before Carona was indicted on conspiracy, mail fraud, and witness tampering charges. The panel was unable to reach a consensus on those acts that fell within the statute.
“In my mind, there’s no doubt that he did what he did, but we have to go by what the law said,” said juror Jim Ybarra. “They were obviously in some kind of cahoots, and everybody felt it.” The panel of 11 men and one woman convicted Carona of one count of witness tampering stemming from a meeting between him and a former assistant, which the government secretly taped. Carona, jurors agreed, tried to persuade Haidl to lie to a grand jury investigating corruption allegations, including cash bribes and laundered campaign contributions. Jurors believed Carona conspired with others to enrich himself while in office. It was the judge’s instructions on how to interpret the law that informed his decision on the corruption charges.