The Nevada businessman facing charges in the CalPERS bribery case apparently shot himself to death with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.
Reno police released new details Thursday in the death of Alfred Villalobos, 71, who died about a month before he was due to go on trial in California on charges of bribing the former chief executive of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
Villalobos is believed to have died from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police said. His body was found about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at an indoor shooting range south of Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Medical personnel were unable to revive Villalobos at the scene.
The address provided by police, on Double R Boulevard, indicates the shooting took place at the Big Shot Indoor Range, which bills itself as “Reno’s Premiere Gun Store & Shooting Range.” Its owner and manager couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. An employee answering the phone at the shooting range referred a reporter to the Reno Police Department.
Reno police spokesman Tim Broadway said it isn’t yet known who owned the weapon, but that customers can rent firearms at the range. He said Villalobos, who lived in Reno, apparently was a regular customer.
Villalobos’ death is being treated as an apparent suicide but remains under investigation.
Villalobos died a month before he was to go to trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on charges of bribing former CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro in order to influence investment decisions. Villalobos earned $50 million over several years as a “placement agent” gaining CalPERS investments on behalf of big private equity firms. Buenrostro has admitted taking more than $250,000 from Villalobos and is to be sentenced in May.
Despite the looming criminal trial, Villalobos’ lawyer said his client was more preoccupied with his failing health.
“His illness was prolonged and painful,” said attorney Bruce Funk. “It was the illness itself that ultimately led to his death.”
Funk wouldn’t comment directly on the police claim that Villalobos killed himself, and said his client was ready to clear his name at trial before his death.
“He was full of confidence,” Funk said.
He wouldn’t discuss the specific ailments, but other attorneys representing Villalobos said he was suffering for the past three years or so from heart and neurological problems. He appeared to have difficulty breathing, and walked with two metal canes, when he appeared in court in San Francisco last summer.
Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.