California Democrat Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Corruption

Former Democratic California State Senator Ron Calderon has admitted that he took tens of thousands of dollars in bribes for legislative action as he submits a guilty plea to a federal corruption charge.

Calderon faced a 24-count indictment before agreeing to the terms of the plea deal.

The United States Department of Justice details:

In the plea agreement, Ron Calderon admits accepting bribe payments from the owner of a Long Beach hospital who wanted a law to remain in effect so he could continue to reap millions of dollars in illicit profits from a separate fraud scheme and from undercover FBI agents who were posing as independent filmmakers who wanted changes to California’s Film Tax Credit program.

In the plea deal, Calderon admitted to “participating in a bribery scheme involving two areas of legislation and the hiring of a staffer at the behest of those paying bribes.”One case involved taking bribes from the owner of a hospital that is at the center of a healthcare fraud scheme.

In another bribery case involving undercover FBI agents, Calderon had one of the agents pay his daughter for work that was never done; for college tuition for his son; and for “a $25,000 payment to Californians for Diversity, a non-profit entity that Ron Calderon and his brother used to improperly pay themselves.”

Brother Tom Calderon, 62, a former Assembly member himself, plead guilty on June 6 to a federal money laundering charge related to the bribery scheme with his brother.

Calderon was indicted in February 2014. Calderon’s legislative offices had been thoroughly searched in June 2013 FBI raids. The Associated Press reported in June 2013:

Michael Franchek, former vice president of EcoGreen Services, said agents interviewed him twice and wanted to know about a contract his water conservation consulting company unsuccessfully sought from the city of Maywood. The contract went to a firm for which Tom Calderon served as president. Maywood is part of the Central Basin district, which paid Tom Calderon a consulting fee of $11,000 per month.

The FBI asked “about legislation written by Ron Calderon on behalf of Central Basin” and four or five contracts awarded to “companies connected to” then Sen. Ron Calderon’s brother Tom, according to an elected official speaking on condition of anonymity to the AP.

“Public officials who engage in corrupt behavior threaten the basic fabric of our democracy,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Calderons have acknowledged their roles in a bribery scheme in which money for them and their families alone was driving legislation that would have benefited only a few individuals.”

Calderon’s son, Ian, currently holds a seat in the State Assembly as well as the position of Majority Floor Leader.

“My office will not tolerate pay-to-play corruption by public officials and their associates,” said Deirdre Fike, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office . “While in office, Ron Calderon and others profited handsomely when bribe money was accepted and laundered, and I’m gratified that he has chosen to take responsibility for his actions.”

Anthony J. Orlando, the IRS criminal investigation’s Acting Special Agent, said, “The Calderon brothers shamelessly defrauded the citizens of California to their right to honest services through an illicit bribery scheme.”

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