Former O.C. assistant sheriff to be sentenced for false tax return

Former Orange County Assistant Sheriff and Newport Beach resident Don Haidl, who helped bring down Sheriff Mike Corona last year, will be sentenced next week in federal court for filing a false tax return in 2002.

Haidl pleaded guilty in 2007 to understating a previous tax return and agreed to uncover corruption by Corona and ex-assistant sheriff George Jaramillo. Federal prosecutors are recommending that Haidl be sentenced to two years’ probation and pay a $40,000 fine.

His sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 25 in U.S. Central District Court in Santa Ana.

The probation department is recommending that Haidl serve 18 months in prison on top of the fine. Federal statutory guidelines recommend a sentence of up to two years in prison for Haidl.

In the government’s motion to give Haidl a lighter sentence, though, prosecutors said, “Without overstating it, defendant is directly responsible for: Corona’s indictment; Corona being exposed publicly as a corrupt public official; and Corona’s conviction.”

Haidl also helped get Corona into office with illegal campaign contributions, but in light of the secretly-recorded conversations he had with Corona to help investigators, his cooperation was invaluable, prosecutors determined.

Haidl was also the government’s key witness in Corona’s 2009 corruption trial. Corona was sentenced to more than five years in prison and Jaramillo was sentenced to 27 months for federal tax evasion and mail fraud. Haidl will also have to pay required back taxes and penalties for his false tax returns.

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