Former state Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello has agreed to plead guilty to allegations of corruption while in office, federal officials said today.
His plea was expected this afternoon.
When allegations first surfaced that the 58-year-old Democrat had accepted $60,000 in cash and benefits for himself and his children in exchange for tax credits for independent film producers who happened to be undercover FBI agents, his lawyer, Mark Geragos, called them “fabricated and untrue.”
Today, as part of a deal made with prosecutors, Calderon said he would plead guilty to mail fraud.
“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,” the U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A. said in a statement.
His brother Thomas M. Calderon, a former state assemblyman, pleaded guilty last week to allegations stemming from his role laundering his sibling's bribe money, prosecutors said.
Ron Calderon's crime carries with it the possibility of 20 years behind bars. But federal authorities said that, as part of the deal with the former state senator, they would not seek more than 70 months.
The judge in the case, however, will have the ultimate say.
“My office will not tolerate pay-to-play corruption by public officials and their associates,” says Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge 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.”
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