LOS ANGELES — A judge indicated she would deny an attempt by former state Sen. Ron Calderon’s attorneys to have the federal corruption case against him thrown out based on allegations that prosecutors engaged in “outrageous government conduct” by leaking a sealed, 124-page affidavit detailing the FBI’s investigation to a cable news network.
However, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder said July 16 she would conduct a pre-trial evidentiary hearing next month to hear defense arguments in the matter.
Calderon’s defense team believes the alleged 2013 leak to Al Jazeera America warrants dismissal of the 24-count indictment because it “irreparably prejudiced Senator Calderon,” Mark Geragos wrote in a court filing.
Many of the allegations against Calderon, including details of the government’s probe of the ex-senator, were revealed by Al Jazeera 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.
Snyder said a closed-door hearing to discuss some portions of the defense motion might be appropriate in order to protect the true identities of confidential informants in the case.
“I am loathe to have any proceeding that’s not public,” the judge said.
Geragos alleges in court papers that the government is the “only plausible source of the illegal leak.”
“Put another way, at the time of the leak, nobody, other than the government, had access to the sealed affidavit,” the attorney wrote.
Geragos further contends that there is a history of leaks emanating from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, including in “high-profile matters such as the doping investigation of cyclist Lance Armstrong.”
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.
The article mentioned that the affidavit was “still under seal.”
Snyder also tentatively rejected a motion by lawyers for onetime Assemblyman Tom Calderon to have him tried separately from his brother on federal corruption charges.
“There is enough overlap of evidence” that the cases should be tried together, the judge said.
In a motion to sever the brothers’ cases, attorney Shepard Kopp contends that “the majority of the evidence gathered by the government pertains to Senator Calderon.”
“A joint trial in which the amount of evidence against Senator Calderon would dwarf that of the evidence against Tom Calderon presents an untenable risk of prejudice to Tom Calderon,” his attorney wrote.
Kopp requested that Snyder consider either separating the brothers’ trials or severing the eight counts in which the former assemblyman is charged from the counts leveled against the ex-state senator.
Snyder previously granted a third delay in the start of the trial, from Aug. 11 to March 1 of next year.
The Calderon 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.