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State Sen. Ron Calderon, brother indicted on federal corruption charges

State Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother have been indicted on political corruption charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
February 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
State Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother were indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple political corruption charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.

The 24-count indictment was filed Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles against Calderon, D-Montebello, and his brother, Tom, a former state lawmaker who now works as a lobbyist.

Ron Calderon, 56, was charged with money laundering, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns. Tom Calderon, 59, was charged with money laundering conspiracy and seven substantive counts of money laundering.

Tom Calderon surrendered to federal authorities Friday morning after being informed of the indictment and was expected to appear in court later in the afternoon. Ron Calderon was traveling and agreed to surrender on Monday.

According to the indictment, Ron Calderon allegedly solicited and accepted approximately $100,000 in cash bribes - as well as plane trips, gourmet dinners and trips to exclusive golf resorts - in exchange for official acts, such as supporting legislation that would be favorable to those who paid the bribes and opposing legislation that would be harmful to them. The senator was also alleged to have attempted to convince other public officials to support and oppose legislation.

In one case, Ron Calderon allegedly took bribes from Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, in exchange for the senator's support of legislation that would delay or limit changes in California's workers' compensation laws. Under the law, the hospital was allowed to pass the full cost of medical hardware used during spinal surgeries on to insurance companies.

According to the indictment, Drobot admitted that the hospital exploited this law by using hardware that had been purchased at highly inflated prices from companies that Drobot controlled and then passing the cost to insurance providers.

Along with plane trips, expensive dinners and golf outings, the indictment specifically alleges that Drobot bribed Ron Calderon by hiring the senator's college-age son to work at his company for three summers at a rate of $10,000 per summer, in which Calderon's son showed up for work a total of 45 days. Ron Calderon allegedly arranged meetings between Drobot and other public officials and helped Drobot attempt to persuade the other legislators to keep the "spinal pass-through" law in effect.

The lawmaker is also alleged to have taken bribes from undercover FBI agents he thought were associated with an independent film studio in a separate scheme to affect legislation to extend film-industry tax credits. In that case, the senator allegedly solicited and accepted trips to Las Vegas, meals and employment for his daughter, in which she was paid $3,000 a month, in exchange for official actions of support.

In addition to the nearly $40,000 paid to his daughter, Ron Calderon allegedly solicited from the undercover FBI agents payments that included $5,000 for his son's college tuition and $25,000 to Californians for Diversity, a non-profit political organization operated by Tom Calderon.

Both Calderons face money laundering charges for allegedly funnelling bribe money through Californians for Diversity and Tom Calderon's consulting firm, some of which went to Ron Calderon and his daughter.

Ron Calderon faces two tax fraud charges for allegedly helping in the preparation of false tax returns that fraudulently claimed business expense deductions in relation to the money his son received from Drobot.

Ron Calderon has denied wrongdoing.


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