Alfred Villalobos, Central Figure in the CalPERS Bribery Scandal, Has Died

court room

On Tuesday, the lawyer of Alfred Villalobos said his client was too sick to attend the trial stemming from his alleged bribery of a top CalPERS official.

On Wednesday, the lawyer said that Villalobos, 71, had passed away.

Villalobos, a former placement agent, was on trial for allegedly bribing a former CalPERS Chief Executive to direct money toward certain investment firms.

More from the Sacramento Bee:

Alfred Villalobos, the Nevada businessman at the center of a corruption scandal that gripped CalPERS, has died, one of his lawyers said Wednesday. Cindy Diamond, one of Villalobos’ defense attorneys, said Villalobos died Tuesday. She declined further comment.

Villalobos’ lawyers, as it happens, were prepared to ask a federal judge Wednesday to delay Villalobos’ trial on bribery charges because of their client’s ill health. In a court filing earlier this week, attorney Bruce Funk said “Mr. Villalobos is not physically or mentally able to participate in his defense, or to even sit through a trial.”

The trial was supposed to begin Feb. 23.

The 71-year-old Villalobos has been in poor health for the past three years, according to his lawyers, with his maladies including a heart condition and neurological problems. When he appeared in U.S. District Court in San Francisco last summer on a pre-trial matter, he walked slowly with the aid of two canes and his breathing was difficult.


In a statement, CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco said, “We remain focused on supporting enforcement authorities as they pursue bringing to justice those who broke the law and violated the trust placed in them by the public employees of California.”

Villalobos had pled not guilty and was facing 30 years in prison.

The death will not change the situation of Fred Buenrostro, the former CalPERS executive who is cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence.


Photo by  Lee Haywood via Flickr CC License

Central Player in CalPERS Bribery Case Is Too Sick For Trial, According to Lawyer


Alfred Villalobos, the ex-placement agent on trial for bribing CalPERS’ chief executive, is too sick to stand trial, according to his lawyer.

The attorney is pushing for a postponement of the trial, which was set to begin in late February.

Villalobos is 71 years old and has reportedly been in and out of the emergency room in recent months.

From the Sacramento Bee:

In a court filing Monday, attorney Bruce Funk said Villalobos has had “numerous stays in the emergency room” in the past few months. “Mr. Villalobos is not physically or mentally able to participate in his defense, or to even sit through a trial,” Funk wrote.


In the court filing, Funk said his client was “incoherent” the last time they spoke on the phone, last Wednesday.

Funk wouldn’t go into details, but Villalobos, 71, has clearly been in declining health. His trial, originally set for last March, was postponed after lawyers said he was suffering from various heart ailments and neurological problems.

When he appeared in court last July, the Reno businessman’s breathing was labored and he walked with two metal canes.

Villalobos is accused of paying $250,000 in bribes to Fred Buenrostro, the former CEO of CalPERS, in an effort to steer pension fund investment dollars to Villalobos’ private equity clients. A former California Public Employees’ Retirement System board member, Villalobos earned $50 million in commissions representing clients seeking CalPERS investments.

Fred Buenrostro, former CEO of CalPERS, pled guilty to accepting Villalobos’ bribes.

Villalobos faces up to 30 years in prison.


Photo by via Flickr CC License

Sentencing Pushed Back For Defendant in CalPERS Bribery Case

Fred Buenrostro

The sentencing of Fred Buenrostro, the former CalPERS executive who pleaded guilty over the summer to accepting bribes, has been pushed back nearly five months to allow further cooperation with the government.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Fred Buenrostro, who left the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in 2008, will now be sentenced May 13 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Buenrostro, who is free on bond, was originally scheduled for a Jan. 7 sentencing.

Buenrostro pleaded guilty in July to accepting bribes from former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos, a Reno businessman who earned millions in commissions securing pension fund investments for various private-equity firms. Buenrostro said he took more than $250,000 in cash, casino chips and other benefits from Villalobos, who prosecutors say was trying to gain favor for his investment clients.

As part of his guilty plea, Buenrostro agreed to testify against Villalobos, who has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors and Villalobos’ lawyer filed a joint statement in court last week asking for the postponement “in order to permit Mr. Buenrostro’s ongoing cooperation with the government.”

Judge Charles Breyer agreed to reschedule the sentencing. Buenrostro is expected to get a five-year prison term, according to the plea agreement, although the judge will have the final say.

Villalobos, who is also free on bond, is scheduled to go to trial in February on three felony charges. If convicted, the 70-year-old Villalobos could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. Villalobos is a former deputy mayor of Los Angeles who served on the CalPERS board in the early 1990s.

More Pension360 coverage of the bribery scandal can be read here.

Placement Agent in CalPERS Bribery Case Pleads Not Guilty

Fred Buenrostro
Ex-CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro, who is cooperating with authorities in the CalPERS bribery case.

Alfred Villalobos, the former CalPERS board member and placement agent who allegedly bribed then-CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro to the tune of $250,000, pleaded not guilty to bribery charges on Wednesday.

Buenrostro has already pled guilty to charges that he accepted the $250,000 bribe and falsified pension fund documents with Villalobos.

More from the Sacramento Bee:

Villalobos, appearing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Wednesday, denied charges that he bribed former CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro to influence the pension fund’s investment decisions. Villalobos earned $50 million in commissions as a “placement agent” securing CalPERS investments for his private-equity clients.

His lawyer, Bruce Funk of San Jose, said the trial is scheduled for Feb. 23. Villalobos, 70, who lives in Reno, remains free on bond.

Villalobos had already pleaded innocent to charges that he and Buenrostro falsified pension fund documents to make sure Villalobos would get paid his commissions. The case took a dramatic turn in July, when Buenrostro pleaded guilty to much broader charges – that he had accepted $250,000 in bribes from Villalobos, along with the promise of a job and other favors.

In August, the government issued a new indictment against Villalobos, charging him with paying the bribes that Buenrostro admitted taking. Besides the cash bribes, Villalobos provided Buenrostro with “entertainment, travel, lodging, jewelry, casino chips and other benefits,” according to the indictment.

The government is continuing to charge him with falsifying documents, the allegation contained in the earlier indictment.

Villalobos has been charged with three felony counts in all. He faces up to 30 years in prison, the same as in the original indictment, if convicted on all charges.

Buenrostro, following his guilty plea to a single count of conspiracy, could get up to five years in prison at his sentencing in January. He is free on bond.

Buenrostro and Villalobos conspired to direct billions of dollars in CalPERS investments to a private equity firm called Apollo, for which Villalobos was working as a placement agent.