A year after his indictment on federal corruption charges, former state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon awaits his day in court, working as a manager at a real estate firm and helping his attorneys sift thousands of documents that include transcripts from undercover FBI wiretaps.
Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, was indicted in February 2014 on 24 felony charges that include accepting $88,000 in bribes in exchange for official actions. He has pleaded not guilty.
Calderon, 57, lists himself on a website and in his voice mail greeting as an acquisitions manager at Red Hill Real Estate Solutions in Montebello.
“He is doing very well,” said his attorney, Mark Geragos. “He’s working and he’s got enormous support from his friends and family.”
The attorney said Calderon is helping with the 330,000 pages of discovery documents provided by the U.S. attorney’s office, including tapes and transcripts for 2,200 recorded telephone calls and meetings.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Mack E. Jenkins has supported two delays to allow the defense time to go through the material.
Asked about the prosecution’s readiness, Jenkins said, “We are anxious to see it go to trial.”
Calderon is accused of accepting bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a film industry executive, in exchange for advocating an extension of tax credits for film productions. Investigators also allege he took bribes from the owner of a medical firm in exchange for action on legislation involving workers’ compensation.
Geragos called the case “the definition of entrapment,” saying, “Most of these so-called offenses were completely manufactured by the government at the cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer.”
Jenkins said his side is ready with a counter-argument.
“The legal standard for entrapment is that there must be no predisposition toward bribery” by the defendant, Jenkins said. “We believe we can meet the legal standard that there was predisposition.”
Geragos, who has represented pop star Michael Jackson, actress Wynona Ryder and R&B singer Chris Brown, has also represented other political figures, including former Rep. Gary Condit, former Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden and Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, a former business partner of then-President Clinton.
Geragos said Calderon would not be the only state lawmaker called to testify at the trial, which is set for Aug. 11.
“I think it’s without question that there will be lawmakers called as witnesses, and not necessarily just by the defense.”
In court papers, Calderon has alleged that federal prosecutors charged him after he refused to wear a wire to secretly record conversations with other senators he characterized as the true targets of the investigation. However, the other senators have produced letters from federal prosecutors indicating they are witnesses, not targets.
Asked if he would present evidence that other lawmakers acted improperly, Geragos would say only, “We will see.”
Calderon was suspended from the Senate in March, and his term in office ended in November. His brother, former state Assemblyman Tom Calderon, is charged with money laundering in the criminal case.