Villalobos, facing CalPERS corruption charges, dies

The placement agent was scheduled to stand trial next month for corruption charges in a pay-to-play scheme with former CalPERS CEO Federico Buenrostro

Alfred Villalobos, a placement agent and former California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) board member who was scheduled to stand trial next month for federal conspiracy and bribery charges, died on Tuesday in Reno, Nevada. The Reno Police Department ruled the death an apparent suicide, according to reports.

Villalobos was scheduled to face trial on February 23, and was already in ill health. He was charged with conspiring with former CalPERS CEO Federico Buenrostro to forge investor disclosure letters required by Apollo Global Management before the firm approved paying a placement agent fee to Villalobos’ firm, ARVCO. Villalobos used the backdated documentation to get some $14 million in fees from Apollo, according to Buenrostro’s attorney.

Buenrostro pled guilty to the charges against him in July. Villalobos’ trial was scheduled to begin last fall but, after learning as part of Buenrostro’s plea deal that Buenrostro received cash bribes and gifts from Villalobos, a federal grand jury expanded the indictment against Villalobos to include a new count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Villalobos served as a board member at CalPERS from 1993 to 1995 prior to becoming a placement agent. An investigative report done for CalPERS in the wake of the scandal showed that the pension fund likely paid millions of dollars in extra fees as a result of the actions of both men.

“We remain focused on supporting law enforcement authorities as they pursue bringing to justice those who broke the law and violated the trust placed in them by the public employees of California,” said CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco in a statement.