Calendars could hurt Calderon
The ex- state senator’s legislative schedule included meetings with key players in the case against him.
SACRAMENTO — Former state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon of Montebello, before his indictment on federal bribery and corruption charges last year, set up meetings with legislative leaders to discuss bills affecting the people who prosecutors allege were paying him off, Senate records show.
Calderon’s legislative calendars, released Tuesday, could corroborate allegations in the federal indictment that the Democrat was arranging meetings with fellow lawmakers and receiving bribes.
Federal prosecutors have said the lawmakers Calderon met with, including current state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León ( D-Los Angeles) and former state Sen. Ted Lieu ( D- Torrance), who is now a congressman, are not targets of the investigation.
Calderon is accused of accepting $ 88,000 froma medical company owner and an undercover federal agent posing as a film producer in exchange for influence on legislation. Former Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, his brother, is charged with money laundering. They face a trial on March 1, 2016; both have pleaded not guilty.
Calderon’s official calendar was released by the state Senate after a Superior Court judge overruled legislative officials’ claim that the records were not public documents in part because their release could pose a security risk. The order was issued after a law suit toun seal the records was filed by the Bay Area News Group and the Los Angeles News Group.
The indictment against Calderon alleges that on Oct. 25, 2012, he met with another senator, referred to as “Senator B,” to discuss expanding eligibility for a state tax credit for independent films.
Calderon’s calendar shows that his schedule that day included a dinner at Fleming’s restaurant in downtown Los Angeles with De León and “Rocky Patel,” the name used by an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a film executive.
The calendar does not say what the meeting was about, and De León did not respond Tuesday to the question of whether such a meeting took place. De León previously produced a letter from prosecutors indicating that he was a witness in the case, not a target.
“There’s nothing new here,” Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for De León, said ina statement Tuesday. “As we’ve restated multiple times over the last twoyears, Sen. De León has and will continue to readily and fully cooperate in this case— and nothing regarding his role has changed.”
An attorney for former Sen. Calderon could not be reached for comment.
The federal indictment also alleges that on June 12, 2012, Calderon and Pacific Hospital’s then- owner, Michael Drobot, met with another lawmaker, referred to as “Senator C,” to discuss the negative impact that legislation proposed by that lawmaker would have on Drobot’s company.
Calderon’s calendar for that day shows his schedule included a meeting with Drobot, Thomas Calderon and then- Sen. Lieu “to discuss Lieu’s Spinal Implant Reimbursement legislation.” Drobot’s medical center preformed spinal implants, and he also owned companies that provided the medical devices for the procedure.
Lieu could not immediately be reached for comment. He told The Times previously that he had been interviewed by federal investigators and that he was assured he was not their target.
The indictment also said then- Sen. Calderon wrote to “Senator B” in March 2011 to discuss the importance of legislation on spinal surgery.
An FBI affidavit mentioned legislation by Lieu and De León that would have limited reimbursements for hardware and implants used in spinal surgery, procedures that according to some estimates cost the state’s workers’ compensation system tens of millions of dollars.
The legislation stalled. A more comprehensive measure passed in August 2012 and limited how spinal implants were reimbursed through the system.
The indictment alleges that Drobot paid Calderon about $ 28,000 in bribes in 2011 and 2012, including $ 18,000 concealed as checks to Calderon’s son Zachary for work on a summer job with Drobot’s firm.
An attorney for Drobot could not be reached for comment.
The indictment alleges that Calderon met with “Senator C” on April 24, 2013, “to discuss legislation that would create a special tax credit for independent filmmakers, but the Senate did not grant The Times’ request for Calderon’s schedule for that day.
Lieu said last year, “I didn’t know what a small production tax credit was until [ Calderon] came to me.” The tax credit legislation was not enacted.
The calendars also show other meetings between Calderon and Patel, the FBI agent, including a two- hour session on Feb. 24, 2012, at the Palm restaurant that was also attended by Calderon staffer Mario Beltran. On Sept. 10, 2012, Calderon was scheduled to meet Patel in the evening at the Dal Rae Restaurant in Pico Rivera.
RONALD CALDERON, aMontebello Democrat charged with corruption, goes on trial next March.