Mike Carona’s fall from “America’s Sheriff” to convicted felon reached bottom Monday as a federal judge gave Orange County’s former top law enforcement officer a half-hour lecture about honesty before sentencing him to 5 1/2 years in prison for attempting to obstruct a grand jury investigation, says the Los Angeles Times. “I need a sheriff I can trust,” U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford told Carona. “Lying will not be tolerated in this courtroom, especially by the county’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.”
The sentence marks the final major act in a case that shadowed the state’s second-largest sheriff’s office for years and changed the reputation of an ambitious lawman who moved into the national spotlight in 2002 with the search for the killer of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. Back then, Carona was seen as a rising political star. But instead, a long-running federal investigation into allegations of misconduct led to his indictment on multiple counts of corruption. After a two-month trial, Carona was acquitted in January of five charges, but convicted of witness tampering.