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Senate hires attorney in wake of corruption probe

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A state Senate ethics panel is hiring an independent lawyer as it considers what steps it might take during an ongoing federal corruption investigation.

Democratic Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside said Thursday that the Senate Committee on Legislative Ethics retained attorney Charles Stevens of San Francisco. Stevens previously was the U.S. attorney based in Sacramento, and before that was an assistant federal prosecutor in Los Angeles investigating public corruption cases.

The move comes as the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles investigates whether Sen. Ron Calderon accepted nearly $90,000 to influence legislation. No charges have been filed and Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, denies wrongdoing.

A spokesman for Roth says Stevens will advise the ethics committee on when it can open its own investigation without disrupting the federal probe.

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