Fuhgeddaboutit, Mike Carona

The OC Weekly ran this picture of Sheriff Mike Carona standing next to mob associate Rick Rizzolo. The two men drank and laughed at the Ritz restaurant sometime between 2000 and 2004.

Investigators have tied Rizzolo to Chicago and New York mob families. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that he’s the target of an ongoing corruption probe. A federal indictment describes his topless joint as a “racketeering enterprise.” The club’s general manager, Albert Rapuano, can’t get a gaming license because of his own mob ties. Rizzolo has employed as bouncers the sons and brothers of high-ranking Mafia bosses. He cracked a man’s skull with a baseball bat to resolve a 1985 dispute. In 1999, FBI surveillance caught him in Chicago discussing gambling and construction interests with notorious hit man Joey “The Clown” Lombardo as well as John “No Nose” DiFronzo, Joe “The Builder” Andriacchi, Rudy Fratto and William Messino, a convicted felon and loan shark.

Carona is up for re-election in June, and he’s already gone through some scandal, including handing out official badges to two Las Vegas businessmen.

Carona is in the fight of his political life to retain control of the $550 million Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which has been racked by scandal after scandal. Vying for his third term, Carona is being challenged by Martin, LA County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Alcarez and Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Hunt, whose duties include serving as the City of San Clemente’s police chief. Hunt recently received the endorsement of OC’s rank-and-file sheriff’s deputies. After first being denied the endorsement of the Orange County Republican Party’s Central Committee, Carona won a second bid by one vote after his top lieutenants engineered a new committee vote.

[OC Weekly Sheriff Scandal Archives]