Steinberg quits law firm tied to son of figure in probe

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg resigned from a law firm tied to the son of a figure in a federal probe.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

SACRAMENTO -- Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has resigned from a law firm that represents the son of a medical firm executive named in an FBI affidavit on the Capitol corruption investigation, an aide said Friday.

The leaked affidavit alleges that Michael D. Drobot, the former chief executive of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, provided $28,000 in bribes to Sen. Ronald Calderon (D-Montebello) in exchange for him advocating for Drobot on workers’ compensation bills.

Steinberg worked until Thursday for the law firm Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, which represents Drobot’s son, Michael R. Drobot, in an insurance fraud case.

Steinberg had told reporters Thursday that he had no relationship with the elder Drobot. Later in the day, Steinberg sent an email from his smartphone to law firm partner Nick Roxborough, quitting the firm.


“Nick. Per our conversation today, I am resigning from the law firm effective immediately,” Steinberg said in the email released by his office. “You told me just recently that the firm represents the son of Mr. Drobot. Today, you told me that the firm was retained by Drobot Jr. in July 2013.”

The State Compensation Insurance Fund sued the elder Drobot, his son and some of their companies in June for fraud, alleging the defendants significantly marked up the costs of implants that Drobot’s hospital then used in surgeries, which enabled the hospital to seek higher reimbursements from the state.

“I of course have had nothing to do with any of your legal clients or work in these areas,” Steinberg wrote in his email. “But given that my good name has been unfairly dragged into the Calderon mess and Drobot senior, I am concerned about any appearance of a connection, even though there is not one.”

Steinberg, who is termed out of the Senate next year, became affiliated on a part-time basis with the law firm last year “to begin developing a private sector mediation practice,” said Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for the senator.


The lawmaker developed “strict protocols to ensure that none of his work involved anyone with business before the Legislature,” Hedlund added.

The law firm’s representation of Drobot’s son could pose a problem for Steinberg because Calderon this week filed a court motion alleging that the FBI wanted him to wear a wireless transmitter to record conversations with Steinberg.

“The FBI was specifically interested in Sen. Steinberg’s financial activities with Michael Drobot, the former chief executive officer of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach,” the Calderon filing alleges.

Neither the elder Drobot nor Calderon have been charged with a crime and both deny wrongdoing.


On Thursday morning, Steinberg called the allegations in Calderon’s filing “beyond the pale” and reiterated previous statements that he is “not a subject of this investigation.”

Steinberg sent his email to Roxborough, resigning from the firm, at 4:50 pm Thursday.


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Melanie Mason contributed to this report