Corrupt ex-CalPERS official commits suicide
February 2, 2015
A former CalPERS board member facing a corruption trial in federal court committed suicide in January. [LA Times]
Alfred Villalobos, 71, killed himself in Reno, his town of residence, city police confirmed. Villalobos was just weeks away from standing trial for bribery and fraud in connection with efforts he made to influence the investment decisions of CalPERS, which is the California retirement system and the largest public pension fund in the nation.
After serving as a CalPERS board member from 1993 to 1995, Villalobos became a placement agent who helped hedge funds and other investment groups wins CalPERS business. He earned about $50 million between 2005 and 2009 as a middleman between CalPERS and private equity clients.
A former CalPERS chief executive and co-defendant in the case cooperated with prosecutors and said that he accepted more than $250,000 in bribes and gifts from Villalobos. Federic Buenrostro Jr., who still faces sentencing in the case, said Villalobos would deliver much of the money in paper bags and shoe boxes at the Hyatt Hotel across from the Capitol in Sacramento.
Prosecutors charged Villalobos and Buenrostro with conspiring to create phony documents that helped Wall Street equity firm Apollo Management land a $3 billion CalPERS investment deal. Apollo is not accused of wrongdoing, but the firm paid Villalobos $14 million in fees.
In 1993, Villalobos briefly served as Los Angeles deputy mayor for economic developments. He resigned after revelations about his finances.
Then-mayor Richard Riordan said he fired Villalobos after five months on the job.
“He was more than ethically challenged,” Riordan said. “He was so bad that I went out of my way to recommend that they not put him on the CalPERS board.”
An attorney who represented Villalobos said the former CalPERS board member was in and out of the hospital prior to his death. Villalobos had constant pain from a neurological disorder, his attorney said.