By Dale Kasler
dkasler@sacbee.com
Published: Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 – 12:13 am

In a case with ties to California’s pension fund scandal, a former top New York state official Thursday admitted taking bribes from a financier who’s done business with CalPERS.

Former New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who oversaw his state’s public pension fund, admitted taking nearly $1 million in gifts from Los Angeles financier Elliott Broidy. Hevesi pleaded guilty in New York state court.

Broidy’s former firm manages $50 million for CalPERS. Broidy himself has been questioned by federal investigators about his association with three current and former CalPERS officials, according to court records.

CalPERS has been examining its ties to Broidy’s former firm, Markstone Capital Group, since Broidy pleaded guilty to corruption charges in New York last December. That examination continues.

“We are still actively reviewing the relationship,” said Brad Pacheco, a spokesman for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Broidy resigned from the Markstone firm about the time he pleaded guilty in New York.

Court records show that the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed Broidy last year for information about any ties he had to two top former CalPERS officials: Alfred Villalobos, who served on the pension fund’s board in the 1990s, and Fred Buenrostro, who was chief executive until 2008. Villalobos and Buenrostro are central figures in a bribery scandal at Cal-PERS.

A lawsuit by Attorney General Jerry Brown said Villalobos, who became a “placement agent” working for private equity firms after he left the CalPERS board, bribed Buenrostro and two others at the pension fund to steer investments to his Wall Street clients. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Villalobos earned about $50 million in fees from Cal-PERS investments but filed for bankruptcy in June. The bankruptcy put a hold on the state’s lawsuit.

In an interview last fall, Villalobos said he met Broidy only in social settings. Buenrostro acknowledged that Broidy approached him about a CalPERS investment, but Buenrostro simply referred him to the pension fund’s staff.

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