Former State Senator Ronald Calderon Agrees to Plead Guilty to Federal Corruption Charge; Admits Receiving Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Bribes

Los Angeles, California – Former California State Senator Ronald S. Calderon has agreed to plead guilty to a federal corruption charge and admits in a plea agreement filed on June 13 that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for performing official acts as a legislator.

  • Ron Calderon, 58, of Montebello, agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud through the deprivation of honest services to resolve a case against him that was filed in 2014
  • The plea agreement comes several weeks before Ron Calderon was scheduled to go on trial on charges contained in a 24-count indictment
  • Ron Calderon admits accepting bribe payments from the owner of a Long Beach hospital who wanted a law to remain in effect
  • The law would allow him to 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

          “Public officials who engage in corrupt behavior threaten the basic fabric of our democracy,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Calderons have acknowledged their roles in a bribery scheme in which money for them and their families alone was driving legislation that would have benefited only a few individuals.”

  • 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
  • As Drobot admitted in court, his 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 maintain a long-running and lucrative healthcare fraud scheme, which included Ron Calderon asking a fellow senator to introduce legislation favorable to Drobot
  • The payments from Drobot came in the form of summer employment for Ron Calderon’s son, who was hired as a summer file clerk at Pacific Hospital and 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 bribery 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 $3,000 monthly 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
  • As part of the agreement with the undercover agents, Ron Calderon performed official acts that led to the hiring of another undercover agent as a staffer in his district office at an annual salary of $45,105
  • As part of Tom Calderon’s plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than one year in prison, which is expected to be within the United States Sentencing Guideline advisory range for the offense
  • However, when Judge Snyder sentencing Tom Calderon of September 12, she could impose a term of up to 20 years in prison, which is the statutory maximum penalty for the money laundering count