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  • Sen. Ron Calderon, whose offices were raided Tuesday, has received contributions from one of the firms.

  • Tom Calderon, a former state assemblyman, lists the two Southern California businesses as clients.

FBI searched two businesses with ties to Calderons in April

Published: Friday, Jun. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 10, 2013 - 8:09 am

The FBI recently has raided at least two California businesses with connections to former Assemblyman Tom Calderon and his brother, Sen. Ron Calderon, whose offices were searched by federal investigators this week.

In April, federal agents executed sealed search warrants at Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and Industrial Pharmacy Management in Newport Beach seeking "evidence of criminal allegations," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Both businesses are listed as clients of Tom Calderon on a disclosure statement he filed during his unsuccessful run for Assembly last year.

Eimiller did not link the investigation of Sen. Calderon's capital offices with those of Pacific Hospital and Industrial Pharmacy Management. She said no charges have been filed.

"We are not in a position to confirm anything beyond our sealed warrants at the Capitol and the FBI's continuing investigation, about which, we've not confirmed the nature, scope or target," Eimiller said in a text message to The Bee.

Ron Calderon's lawyer, Mark Geragos, said this week his client has done nothing wrong and that federal authorities "have no case."

Tom Calderon referred calls to his attorney, Shepard Kopp, who said the FBI attempted to contact his client directly on Tuesday. Kopp said he could not comment on whether the FBI searches of the medical businesses and the senator's offices are connected.

"I haven't seen anything," he said. "It's impossible for me to comment."

Tom Calderon makes a living as a public affairs consultant with clients that include water agencies and health care companies, according to the statement of economic interests.

At least some of the health care companies he listed specialize in treating patients going through the state's workers' compensation system, which directs injured workers to specific surgery centers for care.

He picked up the surgery center clients after serving four years in the state Assembly that concluded in 2002. During his time in office, Tom Calderon wrote a bill that allowed such centers to charge unlimited fees. Tom Calderon ran unsuccessfully for state insurance commissioner in 2002, backed largely with money from the insurance industry.

Ron Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, now chairs the Senate Insurance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the workers' comp system. Three of his bills since 2009 dealt directly with workers' compensation insurance.

Their older brother, Charles Calderon, left the Legislature last year after serving for more than two decades, including a stint on the Assembly Insurance Committee.

"There is a through-line here with an industry and issue area with which this group of brothers have been deeply involved over the years," said Douglas Heller, who battled the Calderons on insurance issues when he was executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and Industrial Pharmacy Management are both are owned by Michael D. Drobot, a major campaign donor. Since 2001, Drobot and Pacific Hospital have given more than $600,000 – mostly to Democrats – including $130,000 supporting former Gov. Gray Davis.

Ron Calderon's various campaign committees have received $26,200 in contributions from Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and its employees since 2003, including $10,000 for a legal defense fund Calderon created in 2006, according to campaign finance data filed with the secretary of state. Tom Calderon got $65,000 from the hospital for his 2002 race and another $23,400 from Drobot and other hospital executives in his race for the Assembly last year.

Drobot's Pacific Hospital was the subject of a Wall Street Journal investigation last year, which called the hospital one of California's most prolific spine-surgery facilities specializing in workers' compensation injuries.

The story raised questions about small hospitals billing workers' compensation insurers hundreds of millions of dollars. It said Pacific Hospital billed $533 million for 5,138 spinal-fusion surgeries on workers' compensation patients between 2001 and 2010, three times as much as any other hospital in the state.

After the FBI raided Pacific, a spokeswoman for the hospital told the Wall Street Journal it is working to resolve a misunderstanding. The Bee's efforts to reach Pacific Hospital, Industrial Pharmacy and Drobot were unsuccessful Thursday.

Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @laurelrosenhall. Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith and staff writer Jim Sanders contributed to this report.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.



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