Former CalPERS Board Member Accused of Bribery Dies

Alfred R. Villalobos, accused of bribing CalPERS officials to benefit investment firms, was set to go to trial February 23.

Former California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) Board member Alfred R. Villalobos has died just a month before he was to go on trial for a bribery and fraud scheme relating to pension fund investments.

Police received a call from a Nevada gun club that there was “a possible suicidal person” there, and when they arrived, they found Villalobos dead from a gunshot wound, according to the Associated Press. Police are investigating, but said it was “apparently self-inflicted.” However, Villalobos’ attorney, Bruce Funk, maintained that Villalobos’ death was connected to his “protracted and painful illness,” not the upcoming trial. “He was looking forward to the trial and exonerating himself,” Funk said.

In a recent court filing, Funk said Villalobos had gone to an emergency room numerous times over the previous five months and had difficulty communicating during a recent phone conversation, the news report said. Villalobos was 71.

According to the lawsuit against Villalobos, former CEO of CalPERS Federico Buenrostro Jr. took tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from placement agent Villalobos, whose company, Arvco Capital Research, obtained more than $47 million in “undisclosed and unlawful commissions for selling approximately $4.8 billion worth of securities to CalPERS” from 2005 to 2009. The suit claims that Villalobos compromised Buenrostro and other CalPERS officials with gifts, which ultimately “compromised the integrity of CalPERS’ investment process” and violated the state corporations code.

The gifts included round-the-world trips as well as private jet flights for fund executives to attend a New York fundraiser honoring Leon Black, founder of investment firm Apollo Global Management, Villalobos’ biggest client at CalPERS. 

Last year, Buenrostro Jr. pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and fraud. Villalobos pled not guilty to fraud and other charges, and his trial was set to start February 23.