FBI: State Senator Took Bribes to Influence Film Tax Credit Legislation (Report)

10:07 AM PST 10/31/2013 by Aaron Couch

Ronald Calderon allegedly accepted $60,000 after telling undercover agents posing as movie execs he would help them lower the budget threshold for films eligible for the movie tax incentive.

A California state senator allegedly offered to influence the state's movie tax incentive in exchange for money from FBI agents he thought were movie executives.

During a year-long FBI investigation, State Sen. Ronald Calderon allegedly accepted $60,000 in bribes from agents posing as movie executives, according to a report from Al Jazeera America’s investigative unit that appeared on America Tonight. The report cites a sealed, 124-page affidavit filed by the FBI in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

According to the affidavit, agents posing as execs from a fictitious independent studio asked Calderon to help lower the budget threshold for films to qualify for a 20 percent tax credit from $1 million to $500,000.

Calderon, the chair of the Senate Select Committee on California's Film and Television Industries, said he could lower the threshold to $750,000 if the agents would give financial assistance to his adult children. The FBI says Calderon funneled payments to himself through his children, as well as a nonprofit connected to the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

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It also says Calderon helped hire an undercover agent posing as an aspiring model for a legislative position in Sacramento, even though she had no relevant qualifications. Calderon also allegedly accepted a number of other gifts from the agents, including allowing them to pay for a table at a Las Vegas nightclub, where Calderon and an aide spent nearly $4,000.

Calderon has not been charged with any crimes. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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