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Sen. Ron Calderon surrenders to authorities in corruption case

State Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) was taken into custody Monday after surrendering to federal authorities in Los Angeles, officials announced.

Calderon, who was indicted last week on corruption charges and accused of taking $100,000 in bribes, is scheduled to appear for arraignment in federal court later in the day, according to the U.S. attorney's office. He faces 24 counts of fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.

Federal authorities allege that Calderon, 56, took the bribes from a Long Beach hospital official as well as people connected to what he believed was a Hollywood studio. In fact, the studio was an FBI front and the business associates were FBI agents. 

Calderon, who faces up to 395 years in prison, allegedly took kickbacks from former Long Beach hospital operator Michael Drobot, who perpetrated what authorities described as one of the largest healthcare fraud schemes in California history.

Drobot allegedly exploited state insurance law to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from spinal surgeries. 

In exchange for shaping or blocking legislation to benefit the surgery business, Drobot allegedly hired Calderon's college-age son to work as a file clerk, paying him approximately $30,000 over the course of three summers, even though he showed up for only about two or three weeks, federal authorities said.

Calderon also allegedly accepted plane trips, golf outings and expensive dinners from Drobot. 

"We welcome the opportunity to disprove these allegations in a courtroom," Calderon's attorney, Mark Geragos, told the Los Angeles Times.

Calderon's brother, Thomas, also faces charges of money laundering. Thomas Calderon is a former assemblyman who most recently served as a consultant for the Central Basin Water District.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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