Former Head of Public Employees’ Pension Fund Sentenced to Prison for Bribery

Fred Buenrostro, former head of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), was sentenced last week to 4 ½ years in state prison for taking more than $250,000 in bribes.

Mr. Buenrostro pleaded guilty almost two years ago. He admitted taking bribes from his friend and former CalPERS board member Alfred Villalobos, who was attempting to steer pension fund investments to firms he represented. Mr. Villalobos killed himself last year.

“I’m humiliated, embarrassed and deeply ashamed of my actions,” Mr. Buenrostro told the judge at his sentencing hearing.

The humiliated pension chief will continue to collect state retirement benefits while he serves his sentence. The Sacramento Bee reported: “He’ll have to have the checks sent to a bank account, as federal regulations prohibit him from actually receiving the money while serving time. … Under state law, Buenrostro is entitled to his pension. But his $201,600 in annual retirement pay has been greatly reduced by his criminal behavior. …  By the time he gets out, he will be collecting 70 percent of his original pension – or $141,228 a year before taxes.” (Source: The Sacramento Bee, May 31 and June 1.)

June 8, 2016

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