Federal prosecutors: California lawmaker took $100,000 in bribes

Feb. 21, 2014 at 10:31 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- State Sen. Ron Calderon, from a leading family in California Democratic politics, took bribes from a healthcare provider, federal prosecutors said Friday.

U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said Calderon faces a long prison term if he is convicted of the charges, the Los Angeles Times reported. Calderon, 56, allegedly received $100,000 from Michael Drobot, former operator of a hospital in Long Beach, Calif., who wanted to ensure that a state law allowing him to bill insurance companies for the full cost of equipment used in spinal surgeries.

Calderon's brother, Thomas, 59, a former assemblyman, is also charged with aiding his brother in the bribery scheme. Another brother, Charles, was the Senate majority leader in the 1990s and has a son, Ian, in the assembly.

The family comes from the San Gabriel Valley northeast of Los Angeles.

"What we are seeing are the last days of a political dynasty," Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State Los Angeles, told the Times.

Calderon's lawyer said his client will surrender Monday and plans to fight the charges.

Birotte said Calderon accepted money, plane trips, golf outings and restaurant meals from Drobot. Drobot also allegedly hired Calderon's son for what was essentially a no-show summer job while he was in college.

Drobot has agreed to plead guilty in a kickback scheme at Pacific Hospital in Long Beach and faces 10 years in prison, Birotte said. Drobot released a statement Friday saying he is cooperating with prosecutors.

The indictment said that Calderon also agreed to help an FBI agent posing as the operator of an independent movie studio in return for a no-show job for his daughter.

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