Capitol Alert

Sentencing postponed in CalPERS bribery case

Former CalPERS chief executive Fred Buenrostro, now facing prison in a bribery case, speaks at a Legislative hearing on pensions in 2005.
Former CalPERS chief executive Fred Buenrostro, now facing prison in a bribery case, speaks at a Legislative hearing on pensions in 2005. Sacramento Bee file

The former chief executive of CalPERS has had his sentencing postponed for his role in the bribery scandal that shook the nation’s largest public pension fund.

Fred Buenrostro, who is expecting a five-year prison term, was supposed to be sentenced next Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Instead, sentencing was postponed this week until July 29.

It’s the second postponement for Buenrostro, who pleaded guilty last July to taking bribes from Nevada businessman Alfred Villalobos in order to influence CalPERS’ investment decisions. As part of his guilty plea, Buenrostro agreed to testify against Villalobos, his longtime friend.

Sentencing has been postponed to give Buenrostro more time to cooperate with prosecutors and investigators. Even though Villalobos died in an apparent suicide in January, Buenrostro is still talking to state and federal officials in a pair of civil lawsuits that are still pending.

“He’s fully cooperating with all government agencies,” said Buenrostro’s lawyer Bill Portanova of Sacramento.

Villalobos earned $50 million in commissions over several years as a “placement agent” obtaining California Public Employees’ Retirement System investments on behalf of private equity firms. Buenrostro admitted accepting more than $250,000 in cash and other benefits from Villalobos, who served on the CalPERS governing board in the early 1990s.

While the criminal case is winding down, the California attorney general and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission still have suits pending against Buenrostro and Villalobos’ investment companies.

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

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