Arizona Taxpayers To Foot Legal Bills For 4 Ex-Pension Employees

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Four ex-employees of the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System are being sued by a real estate investment firm for “defaming” the firm by raising questions about how it values assets.

The lawsuit is private, but the legal costs incurred defending the ex-employees will be paid with public money, according to the Arizona Republic:

The state Department of Administration has agreed to pay the private legal tabs of four former high-ranking employees of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System who are being sued by Scottsdale-based Desert Troon, a real estate partner with the trust that manages some pension fund assets.

The four ex-employees have raised questions about the valuation of the real-estate assets managed by Troon. Troon has in turn accused the four former PSPRS employees in a lawsuit of engaging in a post-employment conspiracy to defame and falsely disparage senior management at the company and the pension system.

Jeff Grant, ADOA deputy director, said the state agreed to pay for the legal defenses of the men in response to a request from their attorneys. The four are Andrew Carriker, former PSPRS in-house counsel; and ex-investment managers Anton Orlich, Mark Selfridge and Paul Corens.

Grant said the state is obligated to provide a legal defense for current or former employees when sued for “acts within the course and scope of employment.” He added that state law does not set a financial limit for a legal defense.

Grant said the state can withdraw defense funding if “facts reveal later that it is not obligated” to cover the cost.

[…]

The PSPRS employees targeted in the Desert Troon lawsuit quit last year in protest over how PSPRS was reporting the values of trust real-estate assets managed by Desert Troon. The ex-employees raised questions about whether real-estate investment values were inflated to trigger staff bonuses. Desert Troon and PSPRS have denied any wrongdoing.

The claims of inflated asset values triggered an FBI investigation, but no charges have been filed.

It isn’t the first time the pension fund’s legal costs have come under fire. Pension360 has previously covered how the fund spent nearly $2 million on outside legal advice last year despite having in-house counsel.

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