LOS ANGELES — Lawyers for Ron Calderon allege in court papers that federal corruption charges against their client should be thrown out because prosecutors engaged in “outrageous government conduct” by leaking a sealed, 124-page affidavit detailing the FBI’s investigation of the ex-state senator to a cable news network.
Although Calderon’s defense believes the alleged 2013 leak to Al Jazeera America warrants dismissal of the 24-count indictment, his attorneys are asking the judge to conduct a pre-trial evidentiary hearing as an alternative.
At such a hearing, “the defense will establish conclusively that the government can have been the only source of the leak of a 124-page sealed affidavit to Al Jazeera, and that said leak has irreparably prejudiced Senator Calderon,” attorney Mark Geragos wrote in the legal filing May 26.
Many of the allegations against Calderon, including details of the government’s probe of the ex-senator, were revealed by Al Jeezara months before he and his brother were named in a February 2014 grand jury indictment.
An evidentiary hearing would “compel the attendance and testimony of the Al Jazeera reporters connected to the article that included the leaked affidavit,” Geragos wrote.
Prosecutors are expected to file their response to the motion before a July 13 hearing to discuss the matter and other pretrial issues.
“The government is the only plausible source of the illegal leak,” Geragos said in the new filing. “Put another way, at the time of the leak, nobody, other than the government, had access to the sealed affidavit.
“Moreover, Senator Calderon’s defense notes that there has been a history of alleged leaks emanating from the U.S. Attorney’s Office … including in high-profile matters such as the doping investigation of cyclist Lance Armstrong,” Geragos contends. “Similarly, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is keenly aware of how important secrecy is to certain phases of criminal prosecution.”
In case of trial, the attorney argued, “it is unquestionable that the leaked affidavit will be republished by virtually every media outlet, thereby creating further, irreparable prejudice.”
The Oct. 30, 2013 Al Jazeera article contained descriptions and names of numerous potential witnesses, the nature of the allegations against Calderon, details of the investigation, and purported conversations with the former politician.
In another defense filing in the case, attorney Shepard Kopp is requesting that U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder consider separating the brothers’ trials or severing the eight counts in which former Assemblyman Tom Calderon is charged from the counts leveled against the ex-state senator.
Snyder recently granted a third delay in the start of the trial, from Aug. 11 to March 1 of next year.
The brothers were indicted on two dozen counts, which include wire fraud, mail fraud, honest services fraud, bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.
Ron Calderon is accused of accepting $80,000 in bribes, as well as gourmet meals and golf outings, from a medical company owner and an undercover FBI agent posing as a film executive.
He was suspended from the Senate in March 2014, and his term in office ended last November.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas M. Miller has indicated that a superseding indictment containing additional criminal charges could be forthcoming.