California Sen. Ronald S. Calderon, Brother Charged in FBI Probe
By Scott Glover and Hector Becerra
February 21, 2014, 7:37 p.m.
State Sen. Ronald S. Calderon hopped on a Las Vegas-bound plane last spring for a meeting with an independent film executive and one of the man’s investors.
But the appointment at the Bellagio hotel took an immediate unexpected turn for the Southern California lawmaker, according to court records. The businessmen Calderon expected to meet were actually FBI agents with an unsettling message: He was under investigation for public corruption, and he could either cooperate with authorities or face the consequences.
Calderon (D-Montebello) initially agreed to wear a wire in an effort to implicate other politicians, authorities said. That arrangement eventually fell apart, and on Friday prosecutors announced a sweeping indictment against Calderon charging him with bribery, fraud, money laundering and related offenses. Calderon’s brother, Thomas, a former member of the California Assembly, is also charged with money laundering.
The charges stem from a scheme in which Ronald Calderon allegedly solicited and accepted nearly $100,000 in cash bribes, as well as gourmet meals and golf outings, in exchange for his influence as a lawmaker. His actions, prosecutors say, helped facilitate a half-billion-dollar healthcare fraud — one of the largest such scams in the state’s history.