LOS ANGELES (AP) - A former California lawmaker was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison for helping his brother, a state senator, hide bribe payments he got for supporting legislation.
Ex-Assemblyman Thomas Calderon laundered money Sen. Ron Calderon accepted from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for supporting tax credits for the film industry - legislation that never passed.
The brothers are part of a family political dynasty that still wields power in the state capital and is now tainted with a pair of corruption convictions since their guilty pleas this year.
“I’m truly remorseful and regret my mistakes,” Calderon said in court just before sentencing. “I just want to be able to survive this.”
Judge Christina Snyder said the crime was serious and the sentence should serve as a deterrent for others. But she was concerned about his health because of recent triple-bypass surgery and diabetes, so she split the term between federal prison and home confinement.
Under a plea deal, prosecutors were seeking a year in prison and the defense asked for probation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins said Calderon was a self-made man who served his community and the state well before leaving the Legislature in 2002 and then capitalizing on his connections as a political consultant.
Jenkins said the path to “the dark side” that Calderon took is not unheard of for those who leave public office and need a source of income. He pointed out that Calderon’s largest sources of income were a water district and hospital “mired in corruption.”
Defense attorney Shepard Kopp said outside court that the prosecutor’s remarks sounded like hyperbole because Calderon was not charged with any crimes connected with those clients. However, one of those clients, Pacific Hospital, was connected with his brother’s corruption case, and the hospital owner was prosecuted separately.
Ron Calderon, 59, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and he faces up to six years in prison. He acknowledged accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from the undercover FBI agents in the film tax scheme and from Pacific Hospital’s owner to support legislation to help maintain a long-running and massive health care fraud scheme. The law was repealed in 2013.
Ron Calderon was one of three Democratic state senators whose indictments around the same time shook up the Capitol and led voters to give legislators the power to suspend the pay of colleagues accused of wrongdoing while in office.
Ron Calderon is scheduled to be sentenced next week, but his lawyer has requested a postponement.
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