State Senator Ron Calderon (D, Montobello) is facing serious charges that he accepted more than $60,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents. The agents conducted a sting operation that is being called "elaborate." According to an Oct. 30 Al Jazeera America article, a sealed federal affidavit describes a situation where Calderon Calderon sought changes in the tax credits available to the film industry. He also allegedly took bribes from a spinal surgery clinic mogul.
In California, an independent film budget must meet a monetary limit to qualify for special tax credits. Calderon allegedly took $60,000 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for working to lower that monetary limit. He also put the undercover agent's "girlfriend" into a senate staff position that came at state taxpayer's expense. The "girlfriend" was actually another undercover agent.
Michael Drobot owned and operated a huge spinal surgery clinic in Long Beach. He ran a $161 million mutiple racketeering and fraudulent operations involving inflated surgery and spinal implant reimbursement fees. Calderon took money to protect Drobot's interest with the State of California. This time, the senator had the money diverted to his brother and his son. Calderon's brother, Thomas, is a former state assemblyman.
According to an Oct 31 Sacramento Bee article, those were not the only instances where Calderon played a game of "pay to play" to accommodate special interest groups with favorable legislation. He funneled bribe money through a nonprofit run by his brother, Thomas, who allegedly handled a total of $10,000 in bribes.
Of course, the question is where and how Al Jazeera America got hold of a sealed federal affidavit. Calderon's attorney is Mark Geragos, who said,
“The only illegal act that is being committed is either by the government or by Al Jazeera. The only illegal act I see is committed either by somebody who released a sealed affidavit or somebody who claims they got a sealed affidavit. Releasing a sealed affidavit is a federal crime.”