RPT-UPDATE 2-California lawmaker indicted on bribery, corruption charges

Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:58pm EST

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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES Feb 21 (Reuters) - A California state senator has been indicted on federal charges that he accepted some $100,000 in cash bribes from a businessman and undercover FBI agents in connection with legislation, prosecutors said on Friday.

Democrat Ron Calderon, 56, has agreed to turn himself in on Monday to face charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, conspiracy, money laundering in the 24-count indictment, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

Calderon's brother, Tom Calderon, a former member of the California State Assembly, was also named in the U.S. District Court indictment and charged with money laundering.

Tom Calderon has already surrendered to authorities and was expected to face an arraignment later on Friday, Mrozek said.

Phone calls made to Ron Calderon's offices in Sacramento and Southern California on Friday were not answered.

"Public corruption is a betrayal of the public trust that threatens the integrity of our democratic institutions," U.S. Attorney André Birotte said in a statement.

"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," Birotte said.

The indictment charges Ron Calderon with accepting bribes from the former owner of a Long Beach, California, hospital and from undercover FBI agents who Calderon believed were associated with an independent film studio.

If convicted, both men could face lengthy prison sentences.

In June, FBI agents searched Calderon's offices as part of an investigation into what the agency described only as "allegations of criminal activity."

An FBI affidavit obtained by Al Jazeera America showed that the agency was investigating accusations that Calderon accepted some $88,000 in bribes from an undercover agent and hospital executive.

In November, Calderon was removed from the executive board of the California Latino Caucus and from his legislative committee assignments during the investigation. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Cynthia Johnston, G Crosse, Mohammad Zargham and David Gregorio)

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