Former CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro pleaded innocent today to conspiracy charges in connection with the pension fund's bribery scandal.
Buenrostro entered his plea in U.S. District Court in San Francisco almost two months after a grand jury indicted Buenrostro and his friend Alfred Villalobos, who earned tens of millions of dollars in commissions from CalPERS investments.
Villalobos entered his innocent plea April 9.
The two were charged with creating phony letters with CalPERS' logo to make sure Villalobos was paid millions in commissions by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. The two also were charged with lying to the FBI and other investigative agencies about the letters.
Apollo wouldn't pay the commissions until it received letters from Buenrostro saying CalPERS was aware that Villalobos would earn a fee if the pension fund did business with Apollo.
In a lawsuit filed three years ago, the state said Villalobos bribed Buenrostro so his clients could get CalPERS' investment business. Among other things, the lawsuit said Villalobos promised Buenrostro a job and a Lake Tahoe condo if he'd quit CalPERS and go to work for him - promises that were fulfilled when Buenrostro joined Villalobos' firm in 2008.
None of the bribery allegations are cited in the criminal indictment.
Meanwhile, a San Diego area investment advisory firm that became entangled in the bribery case has dropped its defamation lawsuit against the Washington, D.C., lawyer who investigated the matter for CalPERS.
Pacific Corporate Group and its founder Christopher Bower dropped their suit against attorney Philip Khinda, his firm Steptoe & Johnson, and Navigant Consulting Inc.
CalPERS fired Pacific Corporate in 2010 apparently because of its ties to Villalobos. A report authored by Khinda in early 2011 said Pacific Corporate may not have been acting in CalPERS' best interests.
Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.