“Californians don’t often give thought to the work conducted by State investigators who work to protect families from financial harm. Fortunately, this investigation led to justice in terms of a prison sentence and restitution to the victims.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
OAKLAND — On January 5, 2023, Gloria Najera-Villanueva, a former employee of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) who stole nearly $700,000 in retirement funds from 10 former State of California employees, was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay full restitution to the victims she defrauded.
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Law Division carried out the prosecution after a joint investigation by the CalPERS Investigation Unit, the California Highway Patrol, and the DOJ's Division of Law Enforcement.
Najera-Villanueva, who worked as a senior analyst with CalPERS, targeted victims who were elderly, disabled, had powers of attorney, or conservatorships. Between September 2017 and January 2021, she illegally accessed the personal banking information of 10 CalPERS retirees, and used $689,465.36 of their money to pay her own credit card bills. She also manipulated accounts so that retirees' deposits would be directed to her own personal bank accounts. Najera-Villanueva pleaded no contest to three felony charges of financial elder abuse. She also admitted to a white-collar enhancement to the charges, which imposes an increased prison penalty.
“Abusing the trust of elders to steal their hard-earned retirement money is despicable,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Rather than serving the public, Gloria Najera-Villanueva abused her position of trust to steal from vulnerable retirees. Our DOJ team and law enforcement partners worked hard to hold Ms. Najera-Villanueva to account, and secure restitution for those she wronged. At the California Department of Justice, we remain committed to protecting and defending the rights of our most vulnerable, including our elders.”