Potential evidence against lawmaker remains sealed
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Grand jury testimony and other potential evidence against indicted California state Sen. Ronald Calderon should not be handed over to his attorney at this time, a federal judge said Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder said at a brief hearing in Los Angeles that prosecutors were correct to seek protections for potential evidence obtained through a grand jury and certain FBI records that could be used in a political corruption case against Calderon.
Calderon has pleaded not guilty to charges that he accepted bribes totaling $100,000 in cash and trips in exchange for pushing legislation to benefit a hospital engaged in billing fraud and participating in a film industry tax scheme that actually was an FBI sting.
He has been suspended from the California Senate as the case proceeds.
Calderon will be entitled to the potential evidence before trial, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Miller had sought to hand over some of the files to Calderon’s legal team early in the case.
Calderon’s lawyer Mark Geragos, however, objected to a protective order for the information that sought to keep details confidential. Geragos told the judge he intends to bring a motion against prosecutors for outrageous conduct after an FBI affidavit detailing allegations against his client was leaked to Al-Jazeera America last year.
Miller has denied prosecutors leaked the document.
Calderon attended Tuesday’s hearing but didn’t speak.
Evidence in the case spans more than 100,000 pages of records and phone recordings, according to a filing by prosecutors.
The 24-count federal indictment against Calderon, a Democrat from a politically prominent family in Los Angeles’ blue-collar suburbs, depicts a rogue legislator eager to trade his clout at the state Capitol to enrich himself and his family.
His brother Tom Calderon, a former state-lawmaker-turned-lobbyist, was charged with money-laundering in the case with prosecutors saying he funneled bribes through a tax-exempt group he controlled.
Tom Calderon has pleaded not guilty. His attorney has agreed to a protective order and will receive some of the sealed evidence in the case against him soon.
If convicted on all counts, Ron Calderon could face nearly 400 years in federal prison. His brother, if convicted, could face a maximum penalty of 160 years, prosecutors said.