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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NorthCountyGuy

The California State Legislature is loaded with these types of crooks.


AmericaBeautiful

Not all are Dems. Many call themselves Repubs but are that in name only.

Time to drain the swamps of these types of crooks, from the top down.

MAGA


Paso_citizen

So pathetic; but this is just one more example of why a growing number of citizens have lost faith in our political system. Greed, greed, and more greed is the common thread driving an ever-increasing number of elected officials in this county, in this state, and in this nation.


Serving 42 months (probably much less) or 42 years will not have a big impact on the others that are very likely using the system in similar ways.


How about term limits on all elected offices? Serve your term, get out, and be forbidden to run again or run for any other political office for X number of years. Politics should not be a career. It should be a service to the electorate; not to oneself.


azuresees

Paso_ You are right on the MONEY….OUTLAW career politicians… TERM LIMITS. That would LIMIT the amount of stealing from the populace!


RonHolt

Kudos to the FBI for doing this right. More of it needs to be done in Sacramento. I suppose it is too much to hope that any but the most blatant and stupid bribery attempts in DC will be investigated though.


shelworth

Real prison? or that fake prison for politicians?


SLOBIRD

He deserves everyday he gets in jail and then some plus the fun moments that await him. Enjoy your privileged moments as our guest but know that at least you will still be able to vote in our corrupt evil system you helped create. To bad more will not be joining you in this new venture!


ConfedOfDunces

These creeps are like waste in a leaky toilet. Given a weak point in the system they will find a way to exploit it in unpleasant fashion.


[Very painful metaphor on the way out but ’twas the best that I could do at this moment.]


Mitch C

This is weird, this guy gets a well-deserved jail sentence for accepting bribes, yet Clinton goes way beyond what this guy even conceived of and she gets a pass. How long will the public condone two standards: one for us little guys and one for the politically connected? Clinton belongs in jail. If she becomes president one can only imagine the corruption that will happen on a global scale.


BeenThereDoneThat

Saw in the news from yesterday, he whined like a little bitch for either house arrest or a sentence that wouldn’t keep him from his family long.


Here’s a novel idea for him or anyone that is incarcerated and doesn’t want to be away from their family, do like the rest of us and DON’T BREAK THE LAW!!!


ZERO empathy here. Lucky I didn’t sentence you. I’d tack on a year for being a whinny bitch.


Old Salt

When there’s that much corruption and money involved 42 months in Prison isn’t enough. So, it’s no wonder the incentive for corruption in high places takes place.

They should throw the KEY away.