2 Former CalPERS Officials Indicted For Fraud

Federal prosecutors have indicted the former CEO of the California Public Employees' Retirement System and a former fund board member on fraud charges. The two deny the charges, which culminate a federal investigation into alleged corruption by the two men.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with charges of pension fraud.

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MONTAGNE: A federal grand jury has indicted the former CEO of the California Public Employees' Retirement System. NPR's Sonari Glinton has more on the bribery and influence-peddling case.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Let's start with the characters. There's CalPERS - or the California Public Employees' Retirement System. As pensions systems go, you can't get bigger.

There's Fred Buenrosto - he's the former head of the pension system; and Alfred Villalobos, a former board member of the fund. The indictment accuses them of unduly using their influence to defraud a giant equity firm of millions of dollars. And here, to help us sort this out...

LAURIE LEVENSON: My name Laurie Levinson. I'm a professor of criminal law at Loyola Law School, and I am a former federal prosecutor.

GLINTON: Levinson says the good news about this indictment is that corporate rules forced Villalobos and Buenrosto to allegedly forge documents, which is what made it easier for them to get caught. She says the bad news is...

LEVENSON: They easily did that, and they weren't caught immediately. This goes back to 2008. So then you pause and say, well, were there other situations like this?

GLINTON: Levenson says alleged fraud should be a wake-up call for other pension systems around the country.

LEVENSON: My guess is, they're already back to their books today in trying to figure out, do we have any of these situations? How good is our auditing? How good is our paperwork? Who do we have working for us?

GLINTON: Levenson says cases like this should make other pension systems very nervous.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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