FBI Raid Targets Montebello Senator

No charges have been filed in probe.

By EGP & City News Service

The California Latino Legislative Caucus issued a statement Wednesday saying it was willing to assist in the ongoing federal probe of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.

Agents from the FBI’s Los Angeles field office served search warrants Tuesday at Calderon’s Sacramento office, but what prompted the investigation that originated in Los Angeles and what they were looking for remains unclear.

Senator Ron Calderon at a Deferred Action Workshop in Bell Gardens. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The California Latino Legislative Caucus’ statement said that, contrary to some media reports, its offices were not searched.

“The nature of the warrants is under seal, and thus far no information on the affidavit in support of the warrants has been disclosed,” according to the caucus statement. “In any event, the Latino Legislative Caucus stands ready to assist the Justice Department in whatever way it can to bring this matter to a speedy resolution.”

Two offices used by Calderon, one at the Capitol and one on N Street were searched, clarified Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard.

Calls and emails to Calderon’s office were referred to the senator’s high profile attorney, Mark Geragos, who said Tuesday there was no justification for the probe.

“The only one so far who has done anything improper is the government,” Geragos told the Los Angeles Times. “The government is out of control and we are going to take the appropriate action to hold them accountable. They should be ashamed of themselves”

Geragos said he would go to court to ask that anything taken from Calderon’s office at the Capitol be returned.

No arrests had been made, nor charges filed, as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Affidavits in support of the warrants have been sealed by the court and so we are unable to comment on nature, scope or target of investigation, which is ongoing, other than to say agents were seeking evidence based on allegations of criminal activity,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in an email to City News Service.

Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told EGP Tuesday that the cases could be related to hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts between a San Gabriel Valley water agency and the senator’s brother, Tom Calderon, a former state legislator. One of the sources told EGP that “several people connected with the Central Basin Water District and its contractors have been questioned by the FBI” over the last two or three months, in what was called “a widespread corruption probe.”

Michael Franchek confirmed that he was interviewed twice by the FBI after he raised concerns that his firm, Ecogreen Services, was denied contracts with the water district which were awarded to better connected companies, including Water2Save, where Tom Calderon is a member of the board.

“To me it reeked of cronyism,” Franchek told the Sacramento Bee.

Calderon, 55, was born and raised in Montebello. Members of his family have served in the State Legislature for three decades. He represents the 30th District, which includes Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Montebello and Whittier, along with other cities.

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June 6, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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