Rep. renews call for pension board investigation

Adkins: Results of forensic audit into Police and Fire Pension Board 'alarming'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After the results of a forensic audit into the Police and Fire Pension Board were released this week, State Rep. Janet Adkins has renewed her calls for federal and state agencies to investigate the board.

The audit, commission by the City Council in April, pointed to a lack of transparency as the biggest problem for the trouble-plagued board.

The auditor, pension expert Ted Siedle of Benchmark Financial Service of Boca Raton, suggested that it might be time to ask the governor, the FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the board.

Adkins, whose district includes Nassau County and parts of Duval County, took up that call Friday, sending letters to the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the State Attorney's Office, and the SEC.

"The report to the Jacksonville City Council regarding the forensic investigation of the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund is both alarming and disheartening," Adkins said in a news release. "Taxpayers, pension beneficiaries, firefighters and police officers deserve answers. Public trust has been broken."

Adkins' letter to the FBI asked for an investigation into any violation of federal laws. The letters to the U.S. Attorney's and State Attorney's offices requested grand juries be convened. And the letter to the SEC asked for an investigation into security laws were violated.

READ: Forensic audit of the Police and Fire Pension Fund

Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee Chairman Bill Gulliford announced the findings of the audit in a news conference Wednesday at City Hall.

The council paid $85,000 for the audit.Among the many problems listed in the audit was a lack of transparency, which was evident in the fact that the board's records were not made available to Siedle.

The audit suggested that the council should subpoena more information from the board.
Siedle said the board failed to provide oversight and made poor investment decisions and that the board and staff might be personally liable for the problems.

The board has been scrutinized for high payments to its director, John Keane, who recently retired but is now a consultant to the board. The board is also under fire for setting up a special pension account for Keane and two other people.

Siedle's report questioned Keane's pension plan, which allows him to take him over $227,000 his first year.

"In this case we found breaches of fiduciary duty and hidden and excessive fees, and we also found potential violations of law," Siedle said. "But until we have the full evidence, we do not know."

The city's top lawyer said the city have issued subpoenas to the board and its attorney to compel them to testify before the City Council.

Gulliford said the council hopes to meet with those involved in public and resolve the problems before taking the board to court.

Keane has not yet commented on the results of the audit.

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