California senator sentenced to 42 months in prison for bribery

October 22, 2016
Ron Calderon

Ron Calderon

Former California State Senator Ronald Calderon, who accepted bribes to push legislation,  was sentenced Friday to three and a half years in federal prison.

Ron Calderon, 59, of Montebello, pleaded guilty in June to one count of mail fraud. He admitted accepting bribes from the owner of a Long Beach hospital who wanted a law to remain in effect so he could continue to reap tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits from a health care fraud scheme.

Ron Calderon, a Democrat, also admitted he accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents who were posing as independent filmmakers who wanted changes to California’s Film Tax Credit program. During the federal investigation, on undercover FBI agent was hired as a member of the senator’s staff.

Ron Calderon’s brother, Thomas Calderon, 62, also of Montebello, a former member of the California State Assembly who became a political consultant, was sentenced last month to 10 months in prison for funneling bribe money earmarked for his brother through his company.

“Mr. Calderon used the power of the state Senate to dole out favors in exchange for bribe payments and a flashy lifestyle, rather than governing honestly for the people of California,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “I’m proud of the agents and prosecutors who made this case a success using innovative techniques to uncover a variety of schemes and abject corruption by a state official.”

Initially, Ron Calderon took bribes from Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, which did many spinal surgeries that were often paid by workers’ compensation programs.

Drobot pleaded guilty to orchestrating the massive healthcare fraud scheme that led to well over $500 million in fraudulent billings. Drobot, who was described in court papers filed by prosecutors as “a greedy fraudster robbing taxpayer-funded federal programs,” was a client of Tom Calderon’s political consulting firm.

California law known as the “spinal pass-through” legislation allowed a hospital to pass on to insurance companies the full cost it had paid for medical hardware it used during spinal surgeries. Drobot’s hospital exploited this law, typically by using hardware that had been purchased at highly-inflated prices from companies that Drobot controlled and passing this cost along to insurance providers.

Drobot bribed Ron Calderon so that he would use his public office to preserve this law that helped Drobot continue his healthcare fraud scheme, which included Ron Calderon asking a fellow senator to introduce legislation favorable to Drobot and attempting to recruit other senators to support Drobot. In one form of a bribe payment, Ron Calderon’s son, who was hired as a summer file clerk at Pacific Hospital, received a total of $30,000 over the course of three years, despite the son doing little actual work at the hospital.

In another part of the scheme, Ron Calderon accepted bribes from people he thought were associated with an independent film studio, but who were in fact undercover FBI agents. In exchange for the payments – including $30,000 in payments to Ron Calderon’s daughter for services she never provided – Ron Calderon agreed to support an expansion of a state law that gave tax credits to studios that produced independent films in California.

The Film Tax Credit applied to productions of at least $1 million, but, in exchange for bribes, Ron Calderon agreed to support new legislation to reduce this threshold to $750,000, according to the plea agreement.

In addition to the payments to his daughter for work she did not do, Ron Calderon had one of the undercover agents make a $5,000 payment toward his son’s college tuition and a $25,000 payment to Californians for Diversity, a non-profit entity that Ron Calderon and his brother used to improperly pay themselves.

Ron Calderon “sold his vote not just to help pay for the expenses of living beyond his means, but for the more banal and predictable aims of corruption -– fancy luxuries, fancy parties, and fancy people,” according to a sentencing memorandum.

Ron Calderon “knowingly concealed his bribery scheme from the public by submitting a false Statement of Economic Interest, California Form 700, to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which failed to disclose the money and other financial benefits defendant he had received from Drobot” and the undercover FBI agents, Ron Calderon admitted in his plea agreement.

The investigation into the Calderons was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mack E. Jenkins of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.







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13 Comments

  1. NorthCountyGuy says:

    Turns out that this crook is one of many.

    Pages in category “California politicians convicted of crimes”
    The following 36 pages are in this category, out of 36 total. This list may not reflect recent changes (learn more).
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:California_politicians_convicted_of_crimes

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  2. kayaknut says:

    42 months, automatically down to less than 2 years, one year or less in “Club Fed” style then 1 year of home arrest, than a lifetime pension and benefits paid for by the taxpayers. Yeah that will really scare anyone else into doing this same thing. Go Democrats, no double standard here. Not to mention all the money he stashed away. And they don’t want real term limits, now we see why.

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down

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