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De Leon subpoena follows Calderon raid

State senator, who says he's been told he's not a target of the federal investigation, and Calderon had been on opposite sides of a legislative effort.

June 07, 2013|By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
  • The FBI seized documents this week from the Capitol office of state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon, saying through a spokeswoman that it was "taking evidence respective to an ongoing investigation." A law enforcement source has told the Los Angeles Times that Calderon is "the focus of the investigation," which is rooted in potential corruption.
The FBI seized documents this week from the Capitol office of state Sen.… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO — A Los Angeles state senator said Friday that the U.S. attorney's office had subpoenaed him to testify before a federal grand jury, just days after the FBI raided the Capitol office of Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello).

Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement that the testimony will take place in Los Angeles in July.

"I've communicated to the U.S. attorney's office my willingness to cooperate fully," the statement said. "The U.S. attorney's office has asked that the details of their inquiry remain confidential. I intend to honor that request."

Capitol sources said federal authorities have also subpoenaed other state lawmakers since Tuesday's raid, but their offices refused to confirm or deny such communications.

In addition to serving subpoenas, federal authorities also questioned at least one Capitol lobbyist this week about Calderon and legislation he has promoted.

Dan Reeves, De Leon's chief of staff, said the senator has "been advised that he is not a target" of the federal investigation.

The FBI seized documents from Calderon's Capitol office, saying through a spokeswoman that it was "taking evidence respective to an ongoing investigation." A law enforcement source has told The Times that Calderon is "the focus of the investigation," which is rooted in potential corruption.

The De Leon subpoena has fueled speculation in the Capitol that investigators are homing in on a group of healthcare companies that have paid Calderon's brother Tom, a former lawmaker himself, tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees since leaving the Legislature.

While a consultant, Tom Calderon worked to stop a 2012 De Leon measure that would have cut into the profits of the companies. Both of Tom Calderon's brothers, Ron and former Assemblyman Chuck Calderon (D-Montebello), tried unsuccessfully to block the legislation.

The companies, which include Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, have earned hefty profits from the state's insurance system for injured workers. They have made donations to lawmakers while fighting efforts to contain the spiraling costs to the state of treating patients.

The worker compensation overhaul written by De Leon was a threat to the firms, which are owned by Michael Drobot. Drobot, his companies and people working at them have donated at least $176,000 to the Calderon brothers' campaigns since 2001.

In April, investigators from the FBI and other agencies raided the Long Beach hospital and a Drobot firm in Newport Beach. No charges have been filed, and law enforcement officials would not say if the raid was linked to the one Tuesday at the Capitol.

The April raid came after a 2012 Wall Street Journal article about billing practices at Pacific Hospital, focusing on its more than $500 million in spine surgery billings through workers' comp claims over a decade.

Tom Calderon helped push measures through the Legislature in 2001 and 2002 that exempted hospitals like Drobot's from caps on workers comp billings for expensive spinal-fusion surgeries.

The De Leon overhaul of workers' compensation last year stripped that exemption from the law. One Capitol staffer said Tom Calderon was working the hallways in Sacramento last summer, trying to keep the exemption intact.

Shepard Kopp, an attorney for Tom Calderon, said that the FBI had attempted to contact his client Tuesday but that Calderon had yet to talk with agents. Kopp did not respond to requests for information on the nature of Tom Calderon's work for Pacific Hospital. Attorneys for Drobot did not return calls.

When the full Legislature voted on the De Leon measure last year, it had broad support from the state's 120 lawmakers. Only nine voted against it. Ron and Charles Calderon were among them.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Times staff writers Paige St. John, Marc Lifsher and Anthony York contributed to this report.

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