(Updates with lawmaker surrendering to authorities)
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES Feb 24 A California state senator
turned himself in on Monday to face charges he took bribes from
a businessman and from undercover FBI agents posing as Hollywood
film executives to steer legislation in their favor.
Democrat Ron Calderon, a member of a family political
dynasty going back several decades in California, was taken into
custody after surrendering to federal authorities mid-morning on
Friday, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
The 56-year-old lawmaker was scheduled for an arraignment on
two dozen counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and other
charges in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles later in the day.
A magistrate judge was also expected to set a bail amount for
State senate leader Darrell Steinberg, meanwhile, has called
on the fellow Democrat to resign or take a leave of absence
during the criminal proceedings, saying the senate would
otherwise seek to suspend him.
According to a 28-page indictment, Calderon is accused of
taking some $100,000 in cash bribes, along with plane trips,
golf outings and jobs for his children, in exchange for
The senator's brother, Tom Calderon, a former member of the
California State Assembly, was also named in the indictment and
charged with conspiracy and seven counts of money laundering.
Prosecutors say Ron Calderon accepted bribes from Long Beach
hospital owner Michael Drobot to preserve a legislative loophole
that allowed Drobot to defraud the state's healthcare system out
of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Drobot has agreed to plead guilty to separate federal
charges and is cooperating in the case against the Calderon
brothers, prosecutors say.
Calderon is also accused of accepting money from undercover
FBI agents who he thought worked for an independent Hollywood
movie studio in exchange for supporting an expansion of film tax
credits in California.
Both Calderons are accused of laundering the bribe money by
funneling it through Tom Calderon's consulting firm,
Californians for Diversity.
Tom Calderon, 59, pleaded not guilty during a brief hearing
in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Friday, and his defense
attorney, Shepard Kopp, said that he "categorically denies" the
charges against him.
In June, FBI agents raided the Sacramento offices of Ron
Calderon and the California legislature's Latino Caucus, where
he was a member of the executive board.
In November, Calderon was removed from the board of the
Latino Caucus and from his legislative committee assignments by
his colleagues because of the investigation.
If convicted at trial, Ron Calderon, who also faces tax
fraud charges, could face a statutory maximum of nearly 400
years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines
typically call for much less time. Tom Calderon could face a
maximum of 160 years behind bars.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and