The former chief executive of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges on July 11. According to his statements, the 64-year-old man began taking bribes from a former CalPERS board member in 2005. In exchange for cash, a trip around the world and an all-expenses-paid wedding, the defendant would use his position at CalPERS to make certain investment decisions, provide confidential investment information and forge letters that allowed firms to collect millions of dollars in commissions.
Despite the former chief executive's statements, the 70-year-old man accused of paying the bribes to him has pleaded not guilty to his own fraud charges. An attorney for the former board member has stated that he denies all of the claims that are contained in the former CalPERS executive's plea agreement.
At his sentencing in January, the former CalPERS executive could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. He has reportedly reached a plea bargain and will be given a reduced sentence as long as he continues to cooperate with investigators. According to his lawyer, the former executive is tired of lying, and he is ready to tell the truth.
A person accused of bribery and fraud may be able to build a solid defense against their charges by challenging the prosecution to present substantial evidence of criminal activity. In some cases, it may be difficult for the prosecution to link a specific gift to a specific action that was taken by the defendant. Witnesses who can attest to the defendant's good character and professionalism may be useful to present in court.
Source: Mercury News, "Former CalPERS CEO pleads guilty to bribery, fraud", Paul Elias, July 11, 2014