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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Brother California Pols|Face the Hoosegow

LOS ANGELES (CN) - California state Senator Ronald Calderon surrendered to federal officials Friday on a 24-count criminal indictment accusing him of mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, conspiracy and money laundering.

Calderon's big brother, Thomas Calderon, a former Assemblyman, was traveling Friday and agreed to surrender this morning (Monday), the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He is charged with conspiring to launder money and seven counts of money laundering.

Ron Calderon, 56, and Thomas, 59, are both from Montebello.

Ron Calderon is charged with soliciting, and taking, $100,000 in cash bribes in exchange for official acts, the U.S. attorney said. The bribes supposedly came from a Hollywood film studio and another business, but actually came from undercover FBI agents, prosecutors said.

Ron Calderon also faces tax charges.

One must report one's bribes.

Charged in a related indictment was Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital Long Beach.

Drobot, 69, of Long Beach, is accused of "a long-running health care fraud scheme that involved tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks in exchange for referrals of thousands of patients who received spinal surgeries," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "The referrals to the hospital led to more than $500 million in bills being fraudulently submitted during last five years of the scheme, much of which was paid by the California worker's compensation system."

Drobot agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and paying kickbacks, prosecutors said. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

"For referrals for spinal surgeries, Drobot typically paid a kickback of $15,000 per lumbar fusion surgery and $10,000 per cervical fusion surgery," the U.S. attorney said in a statement. "Some of the patients lived as much as hundreds of miles away from Pacific Hospital, and closer to other qualified medical facilities. The patients were not informed that the medical professionals had been offered kickbacks to induce them to refer the surgeries to Pacific Hospital."

In linking the criminal cases of Drobot and Ronald Calderon, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said in a statement: "As part of the health care fraud scheme, Drobot admitted in his plea agreement that he paid bribes to California State Senator Ronald Calderon in exchange for Calderon performing official acts to keep the spinal pass-through law on the books. Calderon was indicted on federal charges ... for allegedly accepting bribes from Drobot, as well as undercover FBI agents seeking official acts in relation to other matters."

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