Caught laundering money to conceal his brother’s bribe payments, former California State Assemblyman Thomas Calderon was sentenced on Monday to one year of incarceration. After initially claiming their innocence, both brothers later pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.
Serving as a member of the California State Assembly between 1998 and 2002, Tom Calderon, became a political consultant and eventually began laundering bribes solicited by his brother in exchange for political favors. Serving as a California Assemblyman from 2002 to 2006, his brother, Ron Calderon, was elected to the California State Senate in 2006 and served until his indictment in 2014.
In one instance during 2013, Tom deposited a $30,000 bribe payment from an undercover FBI agent into the bank account of his political consulting company, the Calderon Group. In an attempt to launder the bribe money, Tom subsequently wrote a $9,000 check to Ron’s daughter, despite the fact that she had not actually provided any services rendered.
Ron Calderon solicited additional payments from the undercover FBI agents, including $5,000 for his son’s college tuition and $25,000 to Californians for Diversity, a non-profit political organization operated by Tom Calderon. As part of their bribery scheme, Ron also hired another undercover agent as a staffer in his district office at an annual salary of $45,105.
After the FBI searched Ron’s office at the California State Capitol in June 2013, both brothers were later indicted on multiple charges, including fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and aiding in the filing of false tax returns. Following his indictment on February 21, 2014, Ron was suspended with pay for the last eight months of his term in office, which ended in November 2014.
“Tom Calderon was all too aware of the bribe payments to his brother and that his brother had agreed to a quid pro quo with the undercover agents,” stated U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker. “Tom Calderon facilitated these bribe payments by helping to conceal his brother’s corrupt activities from the public.”
On June 6, Tom Calderon pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and admitted to concealing bribe payments from two undercover FBI agents by funneling the money through his political consulting firm. Later that month, Ron Calderon pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and admitted to accepting bribes in exchange for political favors.
Sentenced to one year and one day of incarceration on Monday, Tom Calderon will serve half of his time in a federal prison and the second half under house arrest due to health concerns. U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder also ordered Tom to serve 100 hours of community service.
Scheduled to face Judge Snyder next week, Ron Calderon accepted a plea deal in which prosecutors are only seeking no more than 70 months in prison. Despite the fact that Ron agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and admitted committing nearly two dozen more crimes in his plea deal, Snyder could still sentence the former corrupt politician to the statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
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