SAN FRANCISCO – Federal prosecutors want the former head of the nation’s largest public pension fund sent to prison for four years after he acknowledged accepting more than $200,000 in bribes and trying to steer investments to help an associate.
A judge on Tuesday in San Francisco was expected to sentence Federico Buenrostro, former chief executive of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. He pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges two years ago, saying he started taking bribes around 2005 to try to get staff members to make investment decisions that helped Alfred Villalobos, an investment manager and former board member of the pension fund.
Buenrostro said he accepted cash, a trip around the world and allowed Villalobos to pay for his wedding in Lake Tahoe, California. Villalobos killed himself last year, weeks before he was set to go on trial. He had pleaded not guilty to fraud charges.
Buenrostro’s guilty plea came out of a yearslong investigation into the role of money-management firm middlemen, called placement agents, in helping clients win investment business from the pension fund. The fund manages health and retirement benefits for state employees and has about $290 billion in assets.