SANTA ANA – Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona, once a rising star in California politics, was indicted on federal corruption charges for allegedly accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and cash in exchange for political favors. A sweeping indictment unsealed Tuesday charges the 52-year-old lawman once dubbed “America’s Sheriff” with seven counts, including conspiracy, mail fraud and witness tampering. Also charged were Carona’s wife of 27 years, Deborah, and attorney Debra Victoria Hoffman, identified in court papers as his “longtime mistress.” If convicted of all counts, Carona, a graduate of Charter Oak High School in Covina, could face a maximum sentence of 95 years in prison, plus thousands of dollars in fines. He was expected to surrender to authorities today at the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, said U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek. The sheriff’s criminal attorney, H. Dean Steward, said before the indictment was unsealed that he was not aware of any charges against his client. He did not immediately return an e-mail requesting comment after the charges were made public. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The two former assistant sheriffs, Donald Haidl and George Jaramillo, previously pleaded guilty to related charges as part of a deal with prosecutors. Jaramillo, who is currently serving a 12-month term on state charges, cooperated with federal investigators to bring the case against Carona, his attorney said. According to prosecutors, all five conspired to get Carona elected in 1998 so he could then use his position to enrich himself and his cohorts. In all, Carona and other conspirators are accused of accepting of more than $350,000 in cash, gifts, loans and other compensation, authorities said. The scheme began when Haidl solicited donations to Carona’s election campaign and then reimbursed donors to hide the money trail, prosecutors said. After Carona was elected, Haidl, a wealthy businessman, paid for a Lake Tahoe vacation for Carona and Jaramillo and their spouses, officials said. He also gave Carona a boat and boat trailer valued at more than $5,000 in 2001 and the personal use of Haidl’s yacht and private plane, the indictment claims. Additionally, Haidl made monthly $1,000 payments to Carona for “full access to sheriff’s department resources” and a “get out of jail free card” for friends and family members, authorities said. Haidl also appointed Carona and Jaramillo to the board of directors of a company owned by Haidl’s uncle and gave a $110,000 loan to Carona’s girlfriend and Jaramillo to help rescue their floundering law firm. In return, the indictment alleges, Carona appointed Haidl to the position of assistant sheriff for reserves in 1999 and made Haidl’s family, friends and business associates reserve deputies. When Haidl’s teenage son, Gregory, was arrested in connection with a 2002 gang rape, Carona allegedly asked Jaramillo to lobby the county district attorney to charge the teen as a juvenile instead of as an adult. And when Gregory Haidl was arrested for a drug charge a year later, he received “preferential treatment” from the Sheriff’s Department with Carona’s consent, the indictment said. Carona also appointed his wife to the Orange County Fair Board of Directors and Hoffman, his mistress, to the State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention and the California Council on Criminal Justice, both of which he chaired. Beyond that, Carona allegedly accepted gifts from a number of unnamed Orange County businessmen, including ringside tickets to an Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad boxing match in Las Vegas; Mont Blanc pens; and luxury box seats to see the Angels in the World Series playoffs. His wife allegedly accepted designer suits and a Cartier watch valued at about $15,000. Carona, his wife and Hoffman all face counts of conspiracy in the 29-page indictment. Carona and Hoffman face four counts of mail fraud depriving the public of the right of honest services of a public official. Carona also is charged with two counts of witness tampering and Hoffman faces three counts of bankruptcy fraud. Haidl has since pleaded guilty to a federal tax offense. Jaramillo has pleaded guilty to federal charges of honest services mail fraud and tax fraud. The indictment is a serious blow to Carona, who first came to the nation’s attention during an investigation into the 2002 kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion. CNN’s Larry King called him “America’s Sheriff,” a nickname that appears on Carona’s official biography. He quickly became a rising star in state Republican politics, had been mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor and even met with then-White House political strategist Karl Rove to discuss his career. Yet Carona’s star fell almost as quickly. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2005 that he had issued badges and concealed-weapons permits to campaign contributors without proper training or background checks. In August, Carona agreed to a settlement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission and paid a $15,000 fine after he incorrectly billed his campaign committee for thousands of dollars in non-itemized expenses.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!