Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alan Hevesi aide faces rap in pension flap

BY Kenneth Lovett
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF
Thursday, March 19th 2009, 4:00 AM

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ALBANY - Hank Morris, a top political consultant to former Controller Alan Hevesi, is one of two people facing indictment Thursday for their roles in a state pension fund scandal, the Daily News has learned.

Morris and David Loglisci, former deputy controller for Pension Investment and Cash Management under Hevesi, would be the first charged in a nearly two-year probe by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office, a source told The News.

The specific charges weren't clear last night. Hevesi will not be charged, the source said.

The News reported in September that Cuomo had convened a grand jury.

Morris pocketed at least $25 million in middleman fees from financial firms that won business with the pension fund during Hevesi's tenure.

Successful companies paid a little-known Connecticut financial firm, Searle & Co. "placement fees," 95% of which are said to have gone to Morris.

The largest chunk was from the Carlyle Group, one of the world's biggest private equity firms in the world.

Carlyle, which invests $1.3 billion for the state pension, paid $12.3 million to Searle from 2003 through 2006.

Morris, Loglisci and their lawyers could not be reached. Searle's lawyer said he was unaware of any charges. Cuomo had no comment.

Morris, a longtime Democratic consultant who also worked for Sen. Chuck Schumer, quietly registered as a financial broker just months after Hevesi took office in 2003.

Few people are said to have known of his involvement with Searle & Co., which is located above a Greenwich, Conn., Christian Science reading room.

Meanwhile, Morris created five firms - four of which shared his East Hampton home address. His name was not listed on the incorporation papers.

At least three of the companies received fees from firms doing business with the fund, documents show. Morris no longer works at Searle.

Hevesi, who quit in 2006 before pleading guilty to an unrelated felony, has denied knowing Morris made money off the pension fund.

Loglisci resigned suddenly in May 2007 amid the probe.

One firm said to be cooperating with Cuomo's probe is Dallas-based Hunt Financial Ventures, whose part owner, Barret Wissman, is reportedly friends with Loglisci.

A Hunt Financial Ventures lawyer said the firm was told before it won $116.7 million in pension business to contact Morris, who instructed it to pay the referral fees to certain companies.

Records show the companies were Searle and Nosemote, one of the five firms Morris created.

klovett@nydailynews.com

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