Business & Real Estate

Sentencing postponed in CalPERS bribery case

The former chief executive of CalPERS, facing prison time in connection with the bribery case that rocked the nation’s largest public pension fund, has had his sentencing postponed to allow more time for his cooperation with prosecutors.

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.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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