AirTalk for February 21, 2014

Breaking: FBI files charges against Ron Calderon and brother

Ron Calderon

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, left, holds a brief news conference during first appearance at the Capitol since the FBI investigators raided his offices in Sacramento, Calif. Sen. Calderon was a no-show with an unexcused absence after at least a half-dozen FBI agents carted boxes from his Sacramento offices following a more than six-hour search in June 2013. Sen. Calderon did not answer any questions and no details have been given for the search and no charges have been filed.

The FBI has announced charges Sen. Ronald S Calderon (D-Montebello) and his brother, Tom, on corruption and money laundering charges.

RELATED: Calderon, brother indicted on public corruption charges following FBI raid

Sen. Calderon has been the subject of a year-long corruption investigation. The FBI raided the lawmaker's Sacramento in June last year as part of the investigation. Al Jazeera television network broke the news of the probe four months later, publishing a leaked affidavit alleging that the 56-year-old senator had accepted $88,000 in bribes from an undercover agent and a hospital executive.  

His older brother, Tom, is charged on money laundering charges.

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was on AirTalk to discuss Gov. Brown's water plan when news broke of Calderon's indictment:

 

RELATED: Calderon corruption charges: Who's who in the investigation of Calif. State Sen. Ron Calderon

According to the indictment:

  • Calderon "executed a scheme to defraud the citizens of the state of California of their right to the honest services of their elected officials through bribery and kickbacks, and the concealment of material information."
  • Ron Calderon sought bribes and kickbacks for himself, his children, the Calderon Group (this is Tom's consulting group) and Californians for Diversity (a nonprofit run by Tom Calderon)
  • Michael Drobot, former chief executive of Long Beach's Pacific Hospital, is alleged to have paid bribes to Ron Calderon. Calderon also allegedly sought employment from Drobot for his son, got trips on private planes, ate at expensive restaurants and played golf at high-end resorts
  • Drobot, 69, pleaded guilty to two counts in a scheme in which he billed workers’ compensation insurers hundreds of millions of dollars for spinal surgeries performed on patients who had been referred by dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others who were paid illegal kickbacks, the Department of Justice said. Drobot was cooperating with federal prosecutors. He faces a possible sentence of 10 years.
  • Calderon's son was hired by Drobot to work in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012. Each summer, the son was paid $10,000, and each summer he worked just 15 days. 
  • Regarding bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as film studio executives, Calderon took trips to Las Vegas, received meals and got employment for his daughter. Eliminating the spinal pass-through could have saved California taxpayers $60 million.

The Calderons are an influential political family in Southern California. Tom is a former Montebello assemblyman and has worked as a political consultant since 2002. Charles, another brother, is a former assemblyman and state senator from Whittier. Ian, Charles' son, became the assemblyman representing Whittier in 2012.

Full indictment below:

LINK

Guests:

Frank Stoltze, KPCC politics reporter joining us from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Downtown LA 

Alice Walton, KPCC politics reporter 

Fernando J. Guerra, PhD., Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University; SCPR Board of Trustees member; 

 


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