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California state Sen. Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello, reportedly surrendered to federal authorities Monday after being indicted on several federal criminal charges, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery.
Sen. Calderon, 56, is accused of soliciting and accepting $100,000 in cash bribes, as well as other gifts, in exchange for supporting legislation — including workers compensation provisions — that would benefit those who paid him, according to a statement Friday by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles
If convicted of all 24 charges in Friday's federal indictment, Sen. Calderon could be sentenced to up to 396 years in federal prison, the U.S. attorney's office said Friday. Sen. Calderon turned himself into federal authorities on Monday afternoon, according to media reports.
A report in November said Sen. Calderon allegedly accepted bribe money to support legislation that would affect California workers comp law. The California Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously that month to remove Sen. Calderon as head of the state Senate Insurance Committee pending the outcome of a federal investigation into the bribery allegations.
One of the people Sen. Calderon allegedly accepted bribes from was Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., which provided spinal surgeries for workers comp patients, the U.S. attorney's office said. In that instance, Sen. Calderon is accused of preserving a portion of California insurance law that allowed Mr. Drobot to allegedly bill comp insurers for the “highly inflated” cost of medical hardware that Pacific used.
Mr. Drobot allegedly bribed Sen. Calderon into preserving California's workers comp “spinal pass-through” provision by hiring Sen. Calderon's son as a file clerk and paying him $30,000 to work 15 days a summer over the course of three years, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Mr. Drobot pleaded guilty Friday to charges of conspiracy and paying illegal kickbacks, the U.S. attorney's office said. He admitted paying bribes to Sen. Calderon in his plea agreement.