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Carona ‘mistress’ label is debated

Times Staff Writer

Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona’s onetime mistress Friday asked the federal judge presiding over their upcoming trial on corruption and conspiracy charges to exclude the nature of their relationship from the case when it goes to a jury trial this year.

A defense lawyer for Debra Victoria Hoffman, who was charged along with Carona and his wife in a wide-ranging indictment last fall, has asked that the description of Hoffman as Carona’s “longtime mistress” be struck from the indictment, which may be read to the jury at the start of the trial. The defense called the description “unnecessary, gratuitous, inflammatory and prejudicial.”

U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford did not rule on Hoffman’s request, but seemed to indicate at least some support for the idea. “We should all be cautious with those kinds of allegations,” he said.

Prosecutors opposed the request, saying the reference was integral to backing allegations that Carona sold access to his office for personal gain.

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“The jury is not going to understand the case unless they understand the relationship,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Kenneth Julian said.

Defense lawyers also asked the judge to tell the jury that some evidence was improperly obtained because it was produced with the help of a cooperating government witness who secretly recorded conversations with Carona when the former sheriff was already represented by defense lawyers.

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christian.berthelsen@latimes.com

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