By Mike Sprague, Whittier Daily News
Posted: 06/06/16 – 3:48 PM PDT |

Former state Assemblyman Tom Calderon on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering as part of a plea deal in a federal corruption case before U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder. Calderon also implicated his brother, who still faces federal corruption charges.

U.S. prosecutors agreed to seek a penalty of no more than a year in federal prison for Calderon, the 62-year-old Democrat who represented Montebello in the state Assembly from 1998 to 2002 and also dismissed the other six counts of money laundering.

The written agreement states Tom Calderon and his brother Ron Calderon concealed the fact that Ron, a former state senator from Montebello, received bribes from two undercover FBI agents. One of the agents posed as a movie studio executive offering a $30,000 bribe in exchange for help in the Legislature for lowering the threshold for California’s film tax credit from $1 million to $750,000.

The money was deposited into the Calderon Group, the public relations and lobbying company Tom Calderon founded after leaving the Assembly. Later, a $9,000 check was written to Ron Calderon’s daughter.

Ron Calderon is scheduled to go trial July 19 on 24 counts of public corruption, mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery and money laundering. Tom Calderon isn’t required to testify against his brother.

“We’re satisfied with the resolution of the case and believe justice is being served,” said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

The recommendation of a one-year sentence isn’t binding on Snyder, who could decide an appropriate sentence is something higher — as much as 20 years — said Mrozek. Sentencing is scheduled Sept. 12.

Shepard Kopp, the attorney for Tom Calderon, and Mark Geragos, Ron Calderon’s attorney, didn’t return phone calls for comment.

Michael Drobot Sr., former chief executive officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, also reportedly gave Ron Calderon $28,000 in bribes in return for supporting legislation to delay or limit changes in workers compensation laws relating to the amount of money medical providers are reimbursed for performing spinal surgeries, according to the affidavit.

Drobot, a Corona del Mar resident, has said he paid kickbacks to doctors, as well as bribing Ron Calderon. Drobot, facing lawsuits from dozens of people who allege he sold them substandard spinal screws, is cooperating with the federal prosecution of Ron Calderon.

Former Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who had called on Ron Calderon to resign before he was indicted, said she’s OK with the deal.

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