Capitol Alert: Ron Calderon takes corruption defense to Twitter
04/04/2014 3:39 PM
04/04/2014 3:45 PM
Suspended state Sen. Ron Calderon took to Twitter Thursday night, sharing, for the first time, a possible defense against the corruption and money-laundering charges he faces in federal court.
"Opinion by former prominent DOJ prosecutor," Calderon tweeted as he shared a legal journal article that spells out one lawyer's view of the weaknesses in the government's case against the senator. It was a rare tweet by the Montebello Democrat, who hasn't posted anything to Twitter since his Feb. 21 indictment and typically focused on ribbon cuttings and other community events before that.
Calderon repeatedly told an undercover agent posing as a film studio owner offering him bribes that he could not perform a "quid pro quo," says the Daily Journal article by Edward J. Loya Jr., an associate with the Venable law firm in Los Angeles.
"Moreover, Ron Calderon's statements suggest that he was genuinely motivated by the prospect of helping minority filmmakers and small business owners, like (the agent), who could benefit from the proposed film tax credit legislation."
Loya also wrote that Michael Drobot, a former hospital executive who is a cooperating witness for the government, may not be credible to jurors. Drobot owned a surgery center that specialized in back surgeries for people being treated through the workers' compensation system. Authorities accuse him of being part of the biggest insurance fraud scheme in California history for taking advantage of a loophole in state law that allowed hospitals to double-bill insurance carriers for surgeries involving spinal hardware. Drobot agreed to plead guilty to bribing Calderon to help him perpetuate the scheme. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, while Calderon faces almost 400.
"Drobot may come off to some jurors as a person who is trying to save his own hide by falsely implicating Calderon," Loya wrote.
He also wrote that the early leaking of the FBI's affidavit to Al Jazeera America is "another troubling aspect of the case" that could undermine the credibility of federal agents.
"Certain aspects of the government's undercover investigation... may seem troubling to jurors," Loya wrote.
Loya, who spent five years prosecuting corruption cases for the US Attorney's Office, said in a phone interview that he is not working for Calderon or his lawyer, Mark Geragos.
"When I learned about the indictment in February, I thought it was a very interesting case. I noticed that a lot of the coverage was very one-sided," Loya said.
He said he was surprised to see Thursday that Calderon had shared his article on Twitter.
"I think he has some very good defenses. He has a very good lawyer," he said. "He should trust his lawyer's ability to defend him."
PHOTO: The Twitter page of suspended state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, on April 4, 2014.
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