The Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, Somerville, scheduled a "proceeding" on May 16 to determine if any members of the Middlesex Retirement System's board violated their fiduciary duty when hiring a general contractor to manage a new office building the system bought in 2002 to serve as its headquarters and as an investment. The commission oversees the state's pension funds.
An April 25 report by state Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan claimed to have uncovered documents falsified to suggest there had been a competitive bidding process, when "in fact, no competition existed." Middlesex officials and the inspector general's office dispute whether there is an existing exemption under state law for the project. All parties involved will have an opportunity to make presentations on May 16, according to a news release on the commission's website. In the meantime, PERAC Executive Director Joseph E. Connarton "appointed an overseer" of the $660 million Billerica-based Middlesex system to "assess all pending matters at the MRB" until the issue has been settled, according to the release.
Joseph L. Martin, PERAC's deputy executive director of policy and development, declined to speculate about the pace or outcome of any proceedings.
In a statement on the Middlesex Retirement System website, Board Chairman Thomas F. Gibson called the inspector general's letter "rife with speculation, innuendo" and "baseless allegations."
Paul Curcio, an attorney representing the Middlesex system, said: "We are going to fight this battle, not behind closed doors at PERAC, but in open court where members of the Middlesex Retirement Board will be afforded their due process rights, have the right to confront their accusers, and where the rules of law and evidence apply. The board is confident that if this matter is determined by an impartial fact finder, no fault will be found."