The lawyer son of a former top California pension fund official was convicted on charges related to a scheme to have a client lie to a federal grand jury in exchange for cash.
Alfred Nash Villalobos, 46, faces up to 30 years in prison after his conviction Wednesday on extortion and obstruction of justice charges.
His father, Alfred J.R. Villalobos, a former director on the board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, was sued by the California attorney general's office last year. The suit accused him of plying a CalPERS executive with gifts to win business for investment firms he represented. Trial in that case is pending.
The younger Villalobos was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of accepting $50,000 cash from a lawyer whose client was the subject of a grand jury investigation into allegations of immigration visa fraud.
Villalobos represented a man scheduled to testify before the grand jury. According to prosecutors, he told the defense attorney he would have his client lie to the grand jury in exchange for cash.
The defense attorney went to the FBI, which secretly recorded conversations in which Villalobos negotiated the bribe, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph N. Akrotirianakis.
The younger Villalobos went to a Century City law firm in 2009 to accept the cash payments, but the law firm was secretly staffed by undercover FBI agents. Villalobos was arrested moments after accepting the cash.
"This is a very serious crime. You're talking about throwing sand in the eyes of the grand jury, which is important to the federal government and our ability to investigate violations of federal law," Akrotirianakis said.
He said the defense had argued that the money was intended as payment to resolve a civil lawsuit and was not a bribe. Neither Villalobos nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
Jurors deliberated about one hour before reaching the verdict in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Villalobos is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12. He remains free on $100,000 bond paid for by his father, Akrotirianakis said.
There was no evidence that his father was involved with his actions, the prosecutor said.
The older Villalobos briefly served as deputy mayor of Los Angeles in 1993 before joining CalPERS. He left CalPERS in 1995 and worked as a so-called placement agent, helping investment firms land business managing the billions of dollars of public employees' retirement money.
Clients paid the older Villalobos more than $47 million in commissions for helping them win contracts to manage about $4.8 billion worth of the fund's securities from 2005 to 2009, the attorney general said. At the same time, he allegedly provided extravagant gifts to CalPERS executives and board members that included an around-the-world trip.
Times staff writer Victoria Kim contributed to this report.