Luzerne County Retirement System, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., hired Merrill Lynch as consultant, replacing ASCO Financial Group, the $142 million pension plan's consultant since 1988, said Steve Flood, county controller and a member of the retirement board. The plan also will search for new money managers, he said.
The plan's 20 money managers have been terminated amid allegations that about half of them were hired because they made political contributions to Luzerne County commissioners, Mr. Flood said. All managers have 30 days to "get their affairs in order," he said. Plan officials expect to have at least several managers in place in 30 days to take over the management of the fund's assets. Mr. Flood also has begun an investigation and expects to hold hearings in October into how the pension fund had been run with ASCO as consultant. Don Williamson, ASCO president, didn't return calls seeking comment by press time.