Former state Sen. Ron Calderon gets 3 1/2 years in prison in bribery case

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Former state Sen. Ron Calderon was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison Friday in a corruption case involving him taking bribes in exchange for his influence on legislation. (KABC)

Former state Sen. Ron Calderon was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison Friday in a corruption case involving him taking bribes in exchange for his influence on legislation.

Calderon, 59, pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud in June and admitted to soliciting more than $155,000 in payments or financial benefits in exchange for supporting or blocking legislation.

Federal prosecutors had asked for a 5-year prison term, saying that Calderon made false and misleading claims about bribes he accepted and distorted his previous admissions in court.

He would not comment to any members of the media after making a final stand in the courtroom.

"At no time did I think I was breaking the law," he told the judge.

He asked for home detention so that he could be with his family. Calderon's lawyer said his client had been a law-abiding legislator before authorities conducted a 10-year "campaign" against him.

The U.S. District Court judge ordered Calderon to report to prison on Jan. 3. If he is a model prisoner, he could spend less than three years in prison.

An indictment against Calderon said that he took kickbacks from the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach in exchange for the lawmaker to push legislation to allow the facility to continue to perform pricey spinal implant surgeries on worker's compensation patients.

The hospital fended off any regulation change so that it could charge the federal government $600 million for the unneeded spinal surgeries.

He took $12,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas from an undercover FBI agent who posed as the owner of a Los Angeles movie studio seeking his support for film tax credits, though the legislation never passed, according to his signed plea agreement. The agent hired Calderon's daughter for a $3,000 a month no-show job and paid $5,000 toward his son's college tuition.

He was ultimately caught in an FBI sting in which an agent posing as a movie executive offered Calderon gifts and cash. The monies were funneled through a consultant firm owned by his brother Tom Calderon, who also plead guilty in the case in June.

Calderon represented the 30th Senate District, which includes the communities of Culver City, Montebello and Whittier, from 2006 until 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
newspoliticsbriberycalifornia state senateu.s. & worldprisonsentencingLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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