Pension Board Set to Cut Bustamante’s Benefits

Tracy Wood/Voice of OC

Carlos Bustamante (left), the former county public works executive who pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving female county employees, at meeting of the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) board in which board members were voting on whether to reduce his county pension. Sitting next to Bustamante is his lawyer, Edwin Brown.

Carlos Bustamante, the former county public works executive and onetime rising star in the Orange County Republican Party who is in jail for multiple felony sex crimes and theft of public funds, may also lose pension benefits because of his crimes.

The board of the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to dock Bustamente’s pension benefits due to his felonies “arising out of or in the performance of his official job duties.”

In 2015, Bustamante pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of stalking and attempted sexual battery by restraint. The crimes were against women who worked for OC Public Works while Bustamante, now 51, was one of the agency’s top administrators. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of grand theft by false pretense relating to education reimbursements he received from the county.

He was sentenced in January to one year in jail and is serving the time at the privately-operated Montebello City Jail,  where inmates pay to stay away from the general prison population.

California law says public employees who are convicted of felonies forfeit all retirement benefits from the date they committed their first felony through the date of conviction. According to the OCERS staff report, Bustamante will forfeit all benefits accrued between July 2, 2009 and Jan. 22 of this year, the date he was sentenced.

Bustamante, who was also a Santa Ana councilman, retired May 19, 2015, according to the OCERS staff report, and “OCERS is required to recoup any overpayments.”

But OCERS also must repay Bustamante, without interest, any retirement contributions he made after he committed his first felony, the staff report says.

If the board approves the staff recommendation, OCERS will deduct $23,855.81 from the $55,821.89 that Bustamante paid into the retirement plan after his first felony. The $23,855.81 is the amount OCERS determined it overpaid Bustamante since his retirement. It will give him a refund of $31,966.08.

Under the reduced plan, Bustamante will receive $3,096.86 a month or $37,162.32 a year in pension payments. His years of service will be cut by about two and one half years, from roughly 16.8 years to about 14.3 years.

A final calculation will be made after the board acts on Monday and Bustamante’s lawyer can appear at the meeting to argue against the reductions.

Bustamante’s top compensation during his tenure at OC Public Works was $244,637.10 in salary and benefits, according to the website Transparent California.

Following Bustamante’s sentencing, Supervisors Todd Spitzer and Andrew Do in March called on OCERS to cut back Bustamante’s pension in accordance with state law.

In July, the county settled lawsuits filed by two women who claimed to be victimized by Bustamante, paying each $500,000.

“I have continued to demand that OCERS, the County’s retirement system, terminate retirement benefits for County employees who so egregiously violate the trust of their constituents, being convicted of criminal acts committed during their employment,” Spitzer said in a news release after the July settlement.

You can contact Tracy Wood at and follow her on Twitter: @TracyVOC.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Boy, these people move at the blinding speed of mud.

    • Paul Lucas


  • Paul Lucas

    Two names; Mike Carona, George Jaramillo. That is all.

    • LFOldTimer

      You bet.

      But they were heroes and they deserve.

      More double-standards abound in the OC.

      If you’re a member of certain clubs you’re entitled to certain privileges over and above the little people.

      All the animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

      And they call this a democracy that adheres to the sacred principle of “Equality Under the Law”.


      • Paul Lucas

        F-in eh Bubba. F-in Eeeeh!

        • LFOldTimer

          And if they can bend the law to make it fit a certain mold that they desire in Bustamonte’s case – they can really do it to anybody who they deem unfit to be worthy of club membership.

          Carona and Jaramillio (and countless others) are bad boys – but they are heroes and they deserve.

          All public union employees – take heed. You could be next.

          • Paul Lucas

            I believe busty had a stint as an MP in the air force.

          • LFOldTimer

            I don’t think being a former MP who stood guard over C-141’s meets the criterion of qualifying for eternal club membership in the elite county ranks.

            I’d have to check the County Charter to confirm.

            The problem is most of these rules are unwritten and are not apparent to the naked public eye.

            It operates sort of like the “Skull & Bones” club at Yale U.

          • Paul Lucas


          • LFOldTimer

            Oh, btw.

            I’m not defending Bustamonte. I think the man is a creep.

            But I believe that the rules should apply equally. And anyone who stands and pledges allegiance to the flag should harbor the same belief or remain seated and silent during the recital.

            Unfortunately we have very many fair-weathered Americans perched in high places who are hypocrites.

            Equality Under the Law was ingrained in my bones as a child and an adolescent and I shall carry that belief with me into the next life.

          • Paul Lucas

            Equality is an illusion.

          • LFOldTimer


            But it’s the responsibility of the little people to inform the elite that nobody’s being fooled. That’s the only real avenue to change. Open confrontation. Otherwise the charade continues under the myth that everything is being run according to the rules of a legitimate government, when it’s not.

          • The Air Force does not have MP’s that is US Army & Marine Corps. The Air Force has Security Police.

          • LFOldTimer

            Same church, different pew.

            Some cops refer to themselves a “Peace Officers”.

            A name is only a name.

          • Perhaps, however as a man that served in the US Army as an MP I take exception. LOL

      • it is called a one party system run by the Lincoln club.

        • Paul Lucas

          Sim sim