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A California lawyer who allegedly agreed to accept more than $100,000 in bribes in exchange for coaching his client to lie to a grand jury investigating immigration fraud has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges. Alfred N. Villalobos, who recently moved from West Hills, Calif., to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was indicted on Aug. 21. Federal prosecutors allege that Villalobos coerced an attorney who represents the target of an immigration fraud investigation to give him $107,000 in cash and other compensation. In exchange, Villalobos promised that his client, referred to in court documents as “Client One,” would make false statements to the federal prosecutor conducting the investigation, as well as to the grand jury. Prosecutors allege that Villalobos accepted the first installment of the alleged bribe — about $50,000 in cash — during an Aug. 4 meeting in Century City, Calif. He was arrested later that day at the law office where the meeting took place. Reached in his own law offices in West Hills, Villalobos, a solo practitioner, referred calls to his attorney, Brian Sun, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Jones Day. Sun’s recent clients have included former Orange County, Calif., Sheriff Mike Carona, once dubbed “America’s Sheriff” by broadcaster Larry King, but who was sentenced earlier this year to 5 ½ years in federal prison on one count of witness tampering. “We’re severely disappointed that the government would seek to bring charges and engage in a rush to judgment,” Sun said. “Villalobos would contend that he was zealously representing his client in seeking payment for lawfully earned wages she had been forced to rebate back to this guy in order to retain her immigration status.” According to court documents, the alleged bribe stemmed from a federal investigation of an individual referred to in court documents as “Confidential Witness One,” or “CW1,” who runs a religious organization in Los Angeles. Federal law permits people involved in religious occupations to obtain temporary work visas. According to the court documents, CW1 allegedly falsified employment records for individuals claiming to work at the religious organization. Grand jury subpoenas had been served and witnesses interviewed as of July 15, according to court papers. One of the witnesses was Client One, who had obtained a visa by claiming to be employed at the organization. Federal prosecutors contend that Villalobos contacted the attorney representing CW1, who was cooperating with the FBI. During that meeting, Villalobos agreed that if his client got paid $100,000 in cash, plus additional compensation in the form of charitable donation receipts, his client would tell federal prosecutors that the employment was legitimate. Villalobos said his client would describe the cash, if necessary, as payment from the settlement of a sexual harassment claim. During the Aug. 4 meeting, Villalobos accepted half the bribe, with the other half to be paid after his client provided the false testimony, according to federal prosecutors. Villalobos will be arraigned on Aug. 31.

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