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FBI searches offices of California state senator, Latino caucus

By Sharon Bernstein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The FBI searched the offices of a California state senator and the Latino legislative caucus on Tuesday as part of an investigation into undisclosed "allegations of criminal activity," a spokeswoman for the agency said.

Agents began searching the offices of the senator, Ron Calderon, and the Latino caucus at about 3 p.m., and were still at work five hours later, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

"The FBI is serving a search warrant at the state Capitol in Sacramento," she said. "We're seeking evidence based on allegations of criminal activity."

The two search warrants granted in the case were sealed by a judge, so the FBI could not disclose the nature of the investigation, other than to say that it was criminal, Eimiller said.

No immediate arrests were planned, she said.

Calderon did not respond to a request for comment and his office referred all calls to Mark Geragos, a high-profile Los Angeles defense lawyer who represented the late singer Michael Jackson in a molestation investigation and Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 for killing his wife.

Geragos said the FBI had not told him what evidence was being sought in the search warrants, citing the court seal. He said agents had not interviewed Calderon.

Geragos criticized the FBI for requesting that the search warrants be kept secret but then confirming to the press that they had been carried out.

"They won't even let me look at it," Geragos said. "They should be ashamed of themselves for asking for a sealed warrant at the same time as they're leaking it to the press."

Tony Beard, chief sergeant at arms for the California Senate, confirmed the raid in a written statement. He said the Senate had no information about the nature of the investigation.

"The Senate has and will continue to fully cooperate with the agents in this matter," Beard said.

Calderon, who represents the community of Montebello, near Los Angeles, was elected to the state's upper house in 2006, according to a biography posted on his website.

His recent bills include an effort to shield homeowners who sell their houses in a short sale from being taxed on the loss taken by their lenders.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and David Brunnstrom)

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