LOS ANGELES – Charged in a corruption scandal that could have sent him to prison for three lifetimes, former Sen. Ron Calderon dropped his entrapment defense, pleaded guilty and admitted taking bribes in exchange for his influence in Sacramento.
As he faces sentencing Friday, though, prosecutors say Calderon is not taking responsibility for his actions and has presented a "whimsical and revisionist view of his conduct" in an effort to serve no time behind bars for graft that lined his own pockets and helped put his children through college.
Federal prosecutors asked for a 5-year prison term in a blistering brief that mocked Calderon for making false and misleading claims about bribes he accepted and distorting his previous admissions in court.
"Defendant asks this court to endorse his view that an elected official who repeatedly and egregiously abuses the trust of the electorate warrants essentially the lowest possible sanction for a federal conviction," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins wrote. "Defendant's requested sentence would permit (Calderon) to continue to trivialize his corrupt actions, as he does throughout his sentencing position, and continue to evade true accountability."
The sentencing in U.S. District Court brings an end to an ugly chapter in California politics that saw three state Democratic senators indicted in 2014. It also tarnishes what was a Calderon political dynasty in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
Calderon, 59, pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud in June, but he admitted to soliciting more than $155,000 in payments or financial benefits in exchange for enacting or blocking legislation.
He took $12,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas from an undercover FBI agent who posed as the owner of a Los Angeles movie studio seeking his support for film tax credits, though the legislation never passed, according to his signed plea agreement. The agent hired Calderon's daughter for a $3,000 per month no-show job and paid $5,000 toward his son's college tuition.
Calderon also admitted helping a hospital owner maintain a massive health care fraud scheme in exchange for hiring his son for $10,000 over three summers for no more than 15 days of work a season filing papers.