News: LA Council Approves San Pedro Public Market Lease
SAN PEDRO — On June 10, the Los Angeles City Council approved the 50-year ground lease for the San Pedro Public Market.
Proponents of the redevelopment are hoping the $150 million project on 30-acres will transform the waterfront into a tourist destination.
The approval came three days after the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the lease.
The development is expected to include retail, restaurants, park areas and office space. Construction is slated to begin in 2017.
Man Killed in Long Beach Car Collision
LONG BEACH — A man was killed in a traffic collision at the intersection of Carson Street and San Anseline Avenue.
The crash took place at 12:01 a.m. on June 11. The other driver, a 26-year old Lakewood resident, was rear-ended by a motorcyclist. The car veered off the roadway, hitting a wall, while the motorcyclist was thrown forward into the road.
Long Beach Fire Department Paramedics responded and determined the cyclist was dead at the scene. The woman sustained minor injuries and was transported to the hospital.
At this time, the motorcyclist is not being identified pending notification of next of kin.
Anyone with information is asked to call (562) 570-5520 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.
Man Murdered in North Long Beach
LONG BEACH — A 20-year-old man was murdered near the 6400 block of Coronado Avenue in Long Beach.
The incident took place at about 4 a.m. June 9. Police officers responded to shot calls. When they arrived they found that two men who had been shot in the upper torso. One man was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition. The other, Wylee Pritchett, a Lakewood resident, was killed at the scene.
The motive for the shooting is under investigation. However, police do not believe the shooting was gang related.
Anyone with information is asked to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.
Long Beach Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Return
LONG BEACH — On June 8, Carl A. Kemp, 43, the owner of The Kemp group, a public relations firm, was charged June 7 for filing a false tax return for the year 2012.
Kemp also failed to report more than $200,000 in income received from illegal marijuana stores located in Long Beach.
In a plea agreement filed, Kemp agreed to plea guilty to the tax offense. Kemp now owes $210,661 to the Internal Revenue Service to cover the back taxes due for the past six years. He also received a civil fraud penalty. The charge of subscribing to false tax returns is punishable by three years in federal prison.
Kemp will be directed by the court to appear for an arraignment later this month.
Calderon to Plead Guilty to Federal Corruption
LOS ANGELES – On June 13, Former California Sen. Ronald S. Calderon agreed to plead guilty to a federal corruption charge.
He admitted in a plea agreement filed that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for performing official acts as a legislator.
Calderon, 58, of Montebello, agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud through the deprivation of honest services to resolve a case against him that was filed in 2014. The plea agreement comes several weeks before Calderon was scheduled to go on trial on charges contained in a 24-count indictment.
In the plea agreement, Ron Calderon admits accepting bribe payments from the owner of a Long Beach hospital who wanted a law to remain in effect so he could continue to reap millions of dollars in illicit profits from a separate fraud scheme and from undercover FBI agents who were posing as independent filmmakers who wanted changes to California’s Film Tax Credit program.
Calderon’s brother, Thomas M. Calderon, 62, also of Montebello, a former member of the California State Assembly who became a political consultant, pleaded guilty June 6 to a federal money laundering charge for allowing bribe money earmarked for his brother to be funneled through his firm.
In the plea agreement, Ron Calderon admitted participating in a bribery scheme involving two areas of legislation and the hiring of a staffer at the behest of those paying bribes.
In the first part of the bribery scheme, Ron Calderon took bribes from Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, which was a major provider of spinal surgeries that were often paid by workers’ compensation programs. (The spinal surgeries are at the center of a massive healthcare fraud scheme that Drobot orchestrated and to which he previously pleaded guilty. Ron Calderon is not implicated in the healthcare fraud scheme.) Drobot was a client of Tom Calderon’s political consulting firm.
California law known as the “spinal pass-through” legislation allowed a hospital to pass on to insurance companies the full cost it had paid for medical hardware it used during spinal surgeries. As Drobot admitted in court, his hospital exploited this law, typically by using hardware that had been purchased at highly-inflated prices from companies that Drobot controlled and passing this cost along to insurance providers. Drobot bribed Ron Calderon so that he would use his public office to preserve this law that helped Drobot maintain a long-running and lucrative healthcare fraud scheme, which included Ron Calderon asking a fellow senator to introduce legislation favorable to Drobot. The payments from Drobot came in the form of summer employment for Ron Calderon’s son, who was hired as a summer file clerk at Pacific Hospital and received a total of $30,000 over the course of three years, despite the son doing little actual work at the hospital.
In another part of the bribery scheme, Ron Calderon accepted bribes from people he thought were associated with an independent film studio, but who were in fact undercover FBI agents. In exchange for the payments – including $3,000 monthly payments to Ron Calderon’s daughter for services she never provided – Ron Calderon agreed to support an expansion of a state law that gave tax credits to studios that produced independent films in California. The Film Tax Credit applied to productions of at least $1 million, but, in exchange for bribes, Ron Calderon agreed to support new legislation to reduce this threshold to $750,000, according to the plea agreement.
Ron Calderon took several official actions with respect to reducing the threshold for the Film Tax Credit. Ron Calderon signed a letter on his official Senate letterhead indicating that he would propose legislation lowering the threshold, introduced a “spot bill” he told an undercover agent would be used to propose such legislation, and promised that he would vote in favor of that proposed legislation.
In addition to the payments to his daughter for work she did not do, Ron Calderon had one of the undercover agents make a $5,000 payment toward his son’s college tuition and a $25,000 payment to Californians for Diversity, a non-profit entity that Ron Calderon and his brother used to improperly pay themselves.
As part of the agreement with the undercover agents, Ron Calderon performed official acts that led to the hiring of another undercover agent as a staffer in his district office at an annual salary of $45,105.
As part of Ron Calderon’s plea agreement, federal prosecutors have agreed not to seek a sentence of more than 70 months in federal prison, a term that is expected to be within the United States Sentencing Guidelines advisory range for this case. However, Judge Snyder would not be bound by any sentencing recommendation and could sentence Ron Calderon up to statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Tom Calderon pleaded guilty last week to money laundering and admitted that he agreed to conceal bribe payments for his brother from the two undercover FBI agents by having the money go through his company, the Calderon Group. Tom Calderon allowed payments to be made to the Calderon Group “to conceal and disguise the fact that the money represented the proceeds of bribery,” according to his plea agreement.
Tom Calderon “deposited the $30,000 bribe payment from [the undercover agent] into the Calderon Group’s bank account and then wrote a check for $9,000 from the Calderon Group’s bank account to Ronald S. Calderon’s daughter,” Tom Calderon admitted in his plea agreement.
As part of Tom Calderon’s plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than one year in prison, which is expected to be within the United States Sentencing Guideline advisory range for the offense. However, when Judge Snyder sentencing Tom Calderon of September 12, she could impose a term of up to 20 years in prison, which is the statutory maximum penalty for the money laundering count.
Hahn’s Pipeline Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Hahn’s pipeline reform provision was up for vote on the House Floor on June 8.
Rep. Hahn has been vocal about the need to protect communities that face the threat of pipeline accidents, such as Wilmington.
S. 2267, the PIPES Act of 2016, would make sure that the Secretary of Transportation issues formal guidance clarifying pipeline status. The provision would specify the status of pipelines and ensure they get regular inspections that would prevent oil spills.
“Residents of Wilmington and communities like it across the country need to know that they can trust the system to protect them,” Hahn said. “And for too long the system has failed.