The case against the Calderon brothers
California state senator Ron Calderon is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.
His brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.
Major allegations in the 24-count federal indictment:
- HOSPITAL LEGISLATION: Ron Calderon accepted money from Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, to preserve a state insurance law that the government says helped Drobot maintain a long-running and lucrative health care fraud scheme. The law was repealed last year.
The hospital is a major provider of spinal surgeries that were often paid by workers’ compensation programs. State law let the hospital pass on to insurance companies the full cost of medical hardware used in spinal surgeries, which the government says Drobot bought at highly inflated prices from companies he controlled.
Drobot, 69, of Corona Del Mar, was separately indicted and has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and paying what the government says were tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks in exchange for referrals of thousands of patients who received spinal surgeries. The referrals allegedly led to more than $500 million in fraudulent bills being submitted during the final five years of the scam, most of which were paid by the state workers’ compensation system.
Drobot has agreed to cooperate in the government’s prosecution of Ron and Tom Calderon.
- FILM CREDITS: Ron Calderon took money from an undercover FBI agent who posed as the owner of a Los Angeles movie studio and sought Calderon’s help promoting an unsuccessful bill that would have expanded tax credits for the film industry. Currently, films must have production costs of at least $1 million to qualify, but Calderon is accused of accepting bribes to support legislation to reduce the threshold to $750,000.
- CALDERON’S CHILDREN: Ron Calderon also ensured that his children benefited, with the film studio hiring his daughter for a $3,000-a-month job and the Long Beach hospital executive hiring his son for three summers at a rate of $10,000 per summer. His daughter was allegedly paid about $39,000 and payments from the FBI included $5,000 for his son’s college tuition. The government says neither child did much, if any, work for the money.
- TOM CALDERON: The former Assemblyman and one-time Senate candidate, who is now a private consultant, controlled Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit political organization that accepted $25,000 in bribe money. Some of that was funneled through the Calderon Group Inc., a consulting company founded by Tom Calderon after he left the Assembly. Money from this arrangement allegedly went to Ron Calderon and his daughter.