Affidavits are key to corruption cases, former FBI agent says

Former FBI agent James Wedick, pictured here in 2006, ran the investigation that became Shrimpscam, netting five California lawmakers.
(Robert Maxwell / For The Times)

SACRAMENTO -- When it comes to a federal corruption case, there are few things more important than an affidavit, according to former FBI agent James Wedick.

The affidavit, a sworn statement made in support of an investigation, can be “90% of your case,” he said.

California’s Capitol was rocked on Wednesday when such a document was disclosed by Al Jazeera cable network, detailing bribery allegations against Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello). His office was searched in June, but the nature of the investigation had remained a mystery until this week.

Wedick ran the investigation that became Shrimpscam in the 1980s and 1990s, nabbing five California lawmakers in a sting operation involving a fake shrimp processing company.


During the case, Wedick treated his affidavit much like a Hollywood director handles a script for a blockbuster movie -- with extreme secrecy.

Wedick said he allowed some agents to read the affidavit, but they couldn’t keep a copy. When agents conducted searches in the Capitol, Wedick provided them with one-page summaries -- just enough to help agents find what they were looking for, but not enough to tip his hand if the summary became public.

“I was extremely worried about the affidavit,” Wedick said.

However, he doubted this week’s disclosure of the affidavit would hurt the case involving Calderon. Wedick said the senator probably already knew why the FBI was investigating him, and the publicity around the case could help propel it forward.


“While I can understand the bureau would be upset in the short term, in the long term this may very well help their investigation,” he said. “This could get them the information they’re looking for.”


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Twitter: @chrismegerian