After a two-year case and two trials, Paul Quirk, former head of the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, Boston, has been cleared of tax charges.
In his second trial, the former PRIM executive director was acquitted Jan. 19 of filing false state tax returns.
"It has been the longest, most difficult ordeal of my life," said Mr. Quirk. "What makes it the most difficult is that it was groundless. It was totally and completely groundless."
Mr. Quirk and his wife, Elizabeth, were indicted two years ago on charges of larceny and filing false tax returns for 1989 and 1990 for allegedly underreporting their income. Ms. Quirk also faces additional charges; her trial on an 18-count indictment is scheduled to begin April 4.
The couple's first trial in July 1992 resulted in a hung jury and the dismissal of the larceny charge against Mr. Quirk. Their two cases were separated a year later; Mr. Quirk went on trial again in January, resulting in this acquittal.
Mr. Quirk's defense stated he did not have any criminal intent, and had prepared the returns in question after receiving W-2 forms that understated his income, said his attorney, James J. McGuire, a partner of Mayer, Brown and Platt, New York. The couple filed amended tax returns and paid the back taxes after their first trial, he added.
The case was tinged by accusations of revenge by political enemies.
Mr. Quirk resigned from PRIM in January 1991, after severing his ties to the USX Shareholders Enhancement Committee, a group led by corporate raider Carl Icahn that, at the time, was fighting for control of USX Corp. The PRIM board questioned the $25,000 in cash and stock Mr. Quirk received for serving on the Icahn panel.
His position became more tenuous after Boston newspapers reported on inflated travel expenses allegedly incurred by him and his staff on PRIM business.
"It was rather interesting that the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a press conference to announce my indictment," said Mr. Quirk. "It's a classic case of politicizing the legal process."
Tom Samoluk, a spokesman for Scott Harshbarger, the attorney general, denied the case was politically motivated.
"I think this attorney general has a demonstrated record of making legal decisions based solely on the law and the facts, and any accusations of politics is simply unfounded," he said. "This office has prosecuted elected officials who are Democrats and has prosecuted elected officials who are Republicans. That doesn't matter to this office, what matters is the facts."
Mr. Quirk said he is considering options to recoup his legal costs. He has two choices: sue the state for malicious prosecution or enter a claim under PRIM's liability insurance to cover his legal bills. Mr. Samoluk said he didn't know whether the liability insurance would cover such a claim.
Mr. Quirk said he is looking forward to getting his career back on track. He is managing director of Triumph Capital Group, Boston, an investment banking firm.