The Juiciest Bits Of The Case Against Ron Calderon
Earlier this week, Al Jazeera America did an incredible piece of investigative journalism outlining the federal corruption investigation aimed at State Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello.
In the report, Calderon is accused of asking for monetary bribes, trips to Vegas and sketchy employment practices in exchange for lifting stringent rules for independent film companies. Calderon has long been known as the go-to guy for anything involving Hollywood dealings while also building a reputation for having some of the greasiest palms in the state. Here are a few highlights from the FBI affidavit used to raid Calderon's office earlier this year:
- On June 12, 2012, Calderon met with undercover agents posing as film executives at a restaurant in Pico Rivera. The agents were looking to lower the minimum film budget to qualify for a tax credit from $1,000,000 to $500,000. Calderon agreed to lower it to $750,000 if the agents employed his daughter, Jessica, in their fake film company. By August of that year, Jessica was paid $27,000 and had not lifted a finger.
- The undercover agent offered an extra $50,000 to Calderon if Calderon agreed to employ the agent's girlfriend, who was also an undercover agent. Calderon quickly agreed and mandated that $5,000 it should go to his son Zachary's tuition at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The rest went into Californians for Diversity, a slush fund disguised as a nonprofit run by Calderon and his brother Charles.
- Calderon and the agent booked a seat at The Bank, an ultra-expensive club inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas. There, he racked up a bill of almost $4,000 and took pictures of himself with rappers Nelly and T.I., which he then sent to the agent. Calderon did not report this trip on his state ethics disclosure forms.
When the feds came knocking on his office door in June of this year, Calderon set up a legal defense fund and issued a statement to the press. "My family and I have gone through a lot the last several days," he said. "It's been very stressful, very hard on all of us. We're all anxious to put this behind us and carry on a normal life."
You can read the full 125-page affidavit against Calderon here.