New Mexico Pension Reaches Settlement With Ex-Chairman Marred By Scandal

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Bruce Malott, the ex-chairman of the $11 billion New Mexico Educational Retirement Board, is currently the defendant in five separate lawsuits stemming his handling of pension investments, which were allegedly marred by conflicts of interest.

Mallot resigned from the pension fund as a result of the controversy. But he claimed that the Retirement Board should pay his attorney fees accrued during those lawsuits. The Board initially refused, but Mallot sued the board over the fees, and today the Board has agreed to pay $125,000 worth of his attorney costs.

Reported by the Albuquerque Journal:

The Educational Retirement Board has paid its former chairman, Bruce Malott, $125,000 to settle a civil lawsuit he filed to recover money for legal representation in lawsuits arising from a state investment scandal.

Malott filed the lawsuit two years ago when the board refused to pay for his personal attorney fees based on an attorney general’s opinion and because he was also represented by lawyers hired by the state.

“The attorney general’s opinion stated clearly that I should not be reimbursed for my legal fees if I had done anything wrong, so this payment only demonstrates what I have said all along – that I have acted with integrity throughout my tenure at the ERB,” Malott said.

ERB Executive Director Jan Goodwin said in a statement, “Consistent with a ruling issued by U.S. District Court Judge Martha Vázquez earlier this year, the agency determined that a settlement was in the best interest of ERB members and beneficiaries. Continued litigation held the risk of escalating costs and an uncertain outcome.

“The settlement allows ERB to focus its attention on its mission of serving its members,” she said.

The ERB was represented by the Attorney General’s Office in the lawsuit.

More details on Malott’s conflicts of interest during his tenure at the pension fund, from the Albuquerque Journal:

Malott was named as a defendant in five separate civil lawsuits that claimed investments by the State Investment Council and the Educational Retirement Board were steered to investment firms by placement agents with close ties to then-Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration. The main placement agent, Marc Correra, shared in more than $22 million in fees for steering state investments from the SIC and the ERB to firms that paid him.

Correra’s father, Anthony Correra, was part of Richardson’s inner circle, and raised money for his campaigns for governor and president.

While serving on the ERB, Malott received a $340,000 loan from the elder Correra through a trust.

Malott resigned as chairman of the ERB following an interview with the Journal about the loan, which had not been disclosed to the ERB, the public or to Richardson, who had appointed Malott to the ERB.

The New Mexico Educational Retirement Board is the pension fund for 90,000 of the state’s teachers. It oversees $11 billion of assets.

Hartford Treasurer Wants Pension Fund To Cover Attorney Fees Related To Federal Grand Jury Investigation

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Hartford Treasurer Adam Cloud has been racking up legal fees during a months-long FBI investigation into several Hartford offices, including the Treasurer’s.

Cloud sent his lawyer’s bill to the city’s pension fund—but the fund says it doesn’t have to pay. From the Hartford Courant:

Cloud submitted invoices to Hartford’s finance department requesting payment for the services from a pension account, Albert Ilg, the interim finance director, wrote in a letter to Pension Commission Chairman Peter Stevens earlier this month. Invoices show the treasurer is seeking $40,765 for the services.

“The requests include consultation regarding matters involving the Treasurer’s Office, but seem to indicate they do not involve Mr. Cloud within his role and pertaining to duties regarding the Pension Commission,” Ilg wrote. “It is my understanding the City of Hartford is already providing counsel for the treasurer in regard to the Federal Grand Jury subpoenas.”

The city hired attorney John Droney to represent Cloud in connection with a federal grand jury investigation into an insurance controversy. But Ilg said in the letter to Stevens that another attorney, William P. Beccaro of Essex, has been hired to provide services.

“To the best of my knowledge there is no other inquiry against the Pension Commission arising from the grand jury,” Ilg wrote. “As you know, the Pension Commission can only spend Pension Fund resources for legal and other matters that relate to actions by Mr. Cloud in his role as the secretary to the Pension Commission.”

The investigation involves $670,000 in insurance premiums that were sent by Cloud’s office to an insurance broker for the city. The broker, Hybrid Insurance Group, had warned city employees that their policies were in danger of cancellation if they didn’t pay.

The money was wired to Hybrid, but it has since disappeared.