NEWPORT BEACH – Don Haidl, a former assistant sheriff who was convicted of tax crimes and then cooperated with federal investigators in their case against convicted Sheriff Mike Carona, has died.
His family confirmed Haidl’s death in a brief statement.
“Our brother passed away unexpectedly last night,” said Peggy Haidl in a written statement released by the family Tuesday.
A multimillionaire from Newport Beach who was handpicked by Carona to head the department’s reserve program, he resigned from his post in 2005 to defend his son, Greg Haidl, in an infamous trial of the rape of an unconscious 17-year-old girl.
Haidl’s name would forever be entangled with Carona’s. A staunch supporter of Carona during the eventual sheriff’s rise, Haidl also played a key role in the former sheriff’s downfall.
After pleading guilty to tax crimes in 2007, where it was alleged he gave Carona cash and gifts, the former businessman began cooperating with federal investigators, eventually wearing a hidden microphone as Carona made incriminating statements about the federal investigation.
During the recorded conversation, the two men discussed coordinating their testimony to a grand jury about money that was being funneled to Carona.
A star witness during Carona’s federal trial, Haidl withdrew from the public eye afterward.
“He died as he lived, surrounded by the people he loved,” the family’s statement read. “He will be greatly missed by all who were privileged to know him.”
By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ/ THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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