Orange County Supervisors agreed this week to a nearly $2-million settlement with former sheriff's Lt. Bill Hunt over a claim that he was wrongly demoted after running against former Sheriff Michael Carona, now serving a prison term for witness tampering.
Hunt will get a settlement of nearly $1.96 million, according to a report in the OC Weekly. In addition, Hunt, who served as the police services chief for San Clemente, must be reinstated to his former rank.
Hunt, who currently heads a private investigation firm, would get his sheriff’s job back for one day for “pension reasons” and then must retire the following day, according to the report.
The deal requires that the county pay Hunt more than $318,000 in back pay, contribute more than $940,000 to his retirement account and pay $700,000 in attorney’s fees.
A day after Carona’s June 6, 2006, reelection, Hunt was placed on administrative leave. He was then demoted from serving as the sheriff’s chief of police services in San Clemente to a patrol officer in Stanton, one of the county's smallest cities.
Instead, he chose to quit.
The suit said the demotion was “unlawful retaliation” for Hunt's comments during his campaign for sheriff, which included criticism of Carona’s leadership.
Carona was later indicted, arrested and convicted on corruption-related charges. He is currently serving a 5 1/2 year sentence in a Colorado state prison.
Hunt applied for the sheriff’s position in 2008 but was rejected.