Twist: L.A. Studio In FBI Sting On Politician Actually Produced Real Movies
State Senator Ron Calderon with his wife, Ana. Photo by Carol Crosby via the LAist Photo Pool on Flickr.
If you're thinking Argo, you might have to think again. Although the recent FBI sting operation on State Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello echoed the movie's plot, the United Pacific Studios in the Arts District, where informants used as a cover for their operation, was actually being used as a real space to shoot movies and TV shows.
While Argo only posed as a film studio, United Pacific Studios is legitimate.The space has been operating since 2007, according to online reports and people in the Hollywood industry. So, people were surprised to say the least to find out that a sting operation was in place.
“They had good pretty rates as far as studios,” said Ricardo Ramirez, a director who lives in La Habra Heights, told Los Angeles Daily News. “They did B films, indies.”
While Calderon's Sacramento office had been raided in June in an investigation on his allegedly shady Hollywood film dealings, he has not been charged, but was removed from his position at the California Film Commission. Al Jazeera America revealed last week with a 125-page affidavit showing that the Senator agreed to creating more lenient film tax laws in exchange for his daughters employment at the studio and that some of the bribe money would also go to his son's tuition at Berklee College of Music in Boston. An undercover agent believed to be using the name Rocky Patel had posed as a film executive at United Pacific Studios who offered bribes to Calderon.
The studio's co-owner, Crystal Wortman told KCBS that Patel had been made president because he had made so much money for the company, but left in the summer due to family issues. "Rocky walked the walk and talked the talk," Wortman said. "I believed he was a producer."
As this whole saga unfolds, there might just need to be an actual film made about it, perhaps filmed at United Pacific Studios.