California State Democratic Senator Ronald Calderon has been accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from undercover FBI agents, according to a release from the Department of Justice.
Calderon, 56, of Montebello, is charged with 24-counts including mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.
He was named in a federal grand jury indictment on Thursday and was taken into custody on Monday around 10:30 a.m. Calderon agreed to surrender to federal authorities after he finished traveling over the weekend.
His brother Tomas Calderon, 59, has also been charged with money laundering. Tomas is a former member of the California State Assembly.
The indictment describes a scheme in which Ron Calderon allegedly solicited and accepted approximately $100,000 in cash bribes - as well as plane trips, gourmet dinners and trips to golf resorts - in exchange for official acts to support legislation that would favor those who paid the bribes and opposing legislation that would be harmful to them.
The indictment further alleges that Ron Calderon attempted to convince other public officials to support and oppose legislation
"Public corruption is a betrayal of the public trust that threatens the integrity of our democratic institutions," said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. "Senator Calderon is accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and using the powers of his elected office to enrich himself and his brother Tom, rather than for the benefit of the public he was sworn to serve."
Officials were able to target Calderon after he took bribes from FBI agents who were pretending to be associated with a Hollywood film studio.
"The indictment alleges Mr. Calderon traded influence for cash in the 30th District and beyond," said Bill Lewis, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. " In addition to robbing us of taxpayer money, corrupt practices rob us of trust in government."
In the first part of the scheme, Calderon allegedly took bribes from Michael Drobot, who use to own Pacific Hospital in Long Beach - which was a major provider of spinal surgeries that were often paid by workers' compensation programs, officials said in a release.
California law allowed the hospital to pass the full cost it paid for medical hardware on to insurance companies.
Drobot allegedly bribed Ron Calderon to use his influence to preserve the law, often called the 'spinal pass-through, to help maintain a long-running and lucrative health care fraud scheme.
Another case was filed Friday morning and Drobot agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and paying illegal kickbacks. In his plea agreement, Drobot admits paying bribes to Ron Calderon.
Calderon was elected to the California State Senate in November 2006 and was reelected in November of 2010.
He is the second of his family to serve in the State Senate and the third to hold a seat in the legislature. His oldest brother, Charles Calderon, was elected to the State Senate in 1990 and was termed out as Assembly Majority Leader in December 2012.
Senator Calderon will be arraigned Monday sometime after 2 p.m. at the Roybal Federal Building in Downtown Los Angeles.