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Commentary: Big CalPERS Bonuses Linked to Lawsuit

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, May 28, 2010
CalPERS investment officer Leon Shahinian earned $323,000 in 2008. He also collected $224,000 in bonuses.
His bonus is especially noteworthy. According to the civil lawsuit Attorney General Jerry Brown filed last month, Shahinian received valuable gifts and free trips from a private businessman who used bribes to steer CalPERS investments to his clients.
The lawsuit says that businessman, Alfred Villalobos, flew Shahinian by private jet to New York City to attend a luxurious gala in honor of his client who was seeking CalPERS investment capital.
Shahinian later recommended, and the CalPERS board agreed to authorize, a $700 million investment with the Villalobos client. "Shahinian," the civil suit suit says, "did not disclose to the CalPERS board that he had just returned from an all expense paid trip with Villalobos…"
No one has been charged with a crime in this case: Justice Department officials won’t say why. Even discussing pending matters, they say, might jeopardize their investigation. Fair enough - but that doesn't keep the public from asking questions. Given all the damning information in the civil record - why isn’t someone in jail?
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.
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