Alfred Villalobos, the former CalPERS board member indicted in the pension fund’s bribery scandal, pleaded innocent to a fresh set of charges this week.
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.
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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.