A public meeting of the Beaver County Pension Board got heated on Tuesday after county officials say managers of a investment fund failed to timely pay hundreds of thousand of dollars owed to the county pension account.

Commissioner Sandie Egley, Controller David Rossi, and Financial Adviser Frank Burnette got into a contentious debate with Anthony Tomasello, Senior Managing Director of iNetworks, about why the County Pension Fund did not receive a $466,000 distribution it was owed from last year. Officials said the county is due the money because additional investments made into the iNetworks Opportunity Fund by other parties reduced the percentage of the county’s holdings.

The Beaver County Pension Board first committed to investing up to $8 million in the iNetworks Opportunity Fund in October of 2013. The Pittsburgh-based venture capital group invests in companies in the IT, Healthcare and Life Sciences sectors. Among the companies currently included in the investment fund’s portfolio is Penn Alt Organics, which hopes to get involved in the medical marijuana business in Pennsylvania. Other companies in the fund include Novian Health, Vizsafe, Propel, One Logos, Unequal Tech, and Cognition Therapeutics.

In August of last year, Commissioners Egley, Camp and Amadio, and Treasurer Javens, voted to reinvest a $817,000 distribution into an iNetworks’ “sidecar fund,” with only Controller Rossi voting no. In November of last year, iNetworks asked the Beaver County Pension Board to reinvest an additional distribution of $466,000 into another sidecar fund, but the Board ultimately decided against any further reinvestment.

Financial Adviser Frank Burnette had advised against the initial investment into iNetworks and similarly advised against reinvestments into the fund’s sidecar offerings.

The Board stated publicly at their April meeting they were declining the offer and wanted the money to be paid back to the pension account as outlined by contract. iNetworks failed to make the payment, repeatedly requesting an opportunity to meet with Board members to discuss a second sidecar investment; county officials declined to put such a meeting on their agenda.

Rather than providing the county with its entitled distribution, iNetworks sent the Pension Board a letter dated June 7th for county officials to sign, acknowledging they are passing on an opportunity to “maintain the existing invested capital amounts within the [iNetworks] Fund and the associated unrealized gains in valuation under highly favorable terms and pricing.”

County officials refused to sign the letter, leading iNetworks to present themselves at the County Pension Board meeting on Tuesday.

“This was something that was discussed earlier in the year that we would get those funds back, it’s in the minutes that we all agreed to get the funds back, why don’t we have the funds,” asked Commissioner Sandie Egley. “It doesn’t matter what they think, we said that we wanted those funds back. My question is, why don’t we have the funds back?”

iNetworks’ Anthony Tomasello told the Board that the county’s money had been “sequestered” into an administrative account and was not in use by his fund, and the investment group had every intention of making the required payment — after first being provided an ability to address the Board about its second sidecar investment opportunity. Tomasello insisted their legal counsel believed they were obligated to discuss the opportunity with the Board before making a disbursement in order to comply with regulations.

“You absolutely are entitled to this return, you have to understand,” said Tomasello. “No disrespect but I’m not sure if any of you on this Board are either accredited investors or qualified investors, or quite honestly financial specialists, and you don’t need to be. By the same token, the relationship you have with [Financial Adviser Frank Burnette] moves a burden to us to make sure that we’ve accurately communicated all of this information to you and we haven’t gotten that acknowledgement. All this letter is, is saying that you have all the information that you want.”

Under provisions of the Pennsylvania County Code, the County Pension Board is required to consist of the three Commissioners, Treasurer, and Controller. In Beaver County, the Board operates in conjunction with advice it receives from Frank Burnette, a contracted investment professional with Morrison Fudiciary Advisors.

Tomasello’s response drew the ire of Controller David Rossi, who believes an existing contract the county had with iNetworks required them to release the funds without needing any further action by the Board.

“You have to release the money, you don’t get to hold the money,” said Rossi. “I’m not signing anything […] Where does it ever say that you’re suppose to tell us that we have to reinvest in the fund on a sidecar. Tell me where it says that. I don’t understand this. This is ridiculous.”

Controller Rossi and Commissioner Egley continued to challenge Tomasello’s reasoning for not releasing the funds to the county months ago, with Egley repeatedly noting the Board had brought the matter up back in April.

“You have options under the agreement, all you have to acknowledge is that you have been fully informed of the consequences of the decision,” responded Tomasello, later telling the Board that he believed reinvesting the money into his fund would be a better decision for them to make. “What I’m trying to say David is I need a formal acknowledgement, however it comes, that each of you has looked at the options and you’ve made a decision and you have been fully informed.”

After further back-and-forth, Tomasello again began touting the companies in his fund’s portfolio.

“This morning I told [Financial Adviser Frank Burnette] that one of our companies, the Chinese just took a position in it and they’re rolling it out in China,” said Tomasello. “That affects the valuation of the company. I told Frank you all aren’t aware of that. I have an obligation, if a change is positive or negative, to tell you.”

Under questioning by Burnette, Tomasello said he would be willing to accept a vote by the Board as acknowledgement it had received all of the information they wanted about his sidecar investment opportunity.

“We voted months ago,” said Commissioner Egley. “We haven’t had our money that we discussed we were going to get for months.”

Commissioner Egley said she was standing by Controller Rossi, and would refuse to sign any further documents from iNetworks. Commissioner Dan Camp said he wanted to sign iNetworks’ paperwork.

“I am going to sign it because I am not going to be held liable for something in the future,” said Camp.

Prior to the meeting, Commissioner Camp had been raising concerns about Frank Burnett with other members of the Pension Board. Camp had similarly raised concerns about Barnett last year while Board members were considering whether to go against his advice and reinvest $817,000 into iNetworks’ first sidecar offering.

Following Commissioner Camps’ confusing remarks about liability, Commissioner Egley suggested the Law Department review the issue.

County Solicitor Garen Fedeles — who had been sitting quietly during much of the lengthy debate — addressed Tomasello, “You’re saying in order for that money to be released this has to be done?”

“That’s what we’re being told,” responded Tomasello.

Rather than signing additional paperwork from iNetworks, Solicitor Fedeles advised the Board it could pass a motion stating they were aware of their options but the county still wanted its $466,000, effectively reiterating their April meeting. Fedeles had not reviewed the contract with iNetworks but reasoned that the motion, whether or not contractually required, would prevent further delays in releasing the payment to the county.

Commissioner Tony Amadio ultimately made the motion, noting he was doing so under the advisement of County Solicitor Fedeles.

“I’ll second the motion,” stated Treasurer Connie Javens. “As stated with the Solicitor sitting here.”

The motion passed unanimously.

“That was hard work,” concluded Financial Adviser Frank Burnette, who like Commissioner Egley and Controller Rossi, appeared extremely frustrated by the iNetworks representative. “Thank you though.”

Commissioner Egley made it clear she expected the county would receive interest for the months the funds had remained outstanding, which Anthony Tomasello assured her would be the case.

Commissioner Sandie Egley, Controller David Rossi, and Adviser Frank Burnett said they want to see the Pension Board pass a broader motion at its next meeting which could prevent future delays in iNetworks’ release of disbursements to the county.

56 COMMENTS

    • Exactly! Just how much of their current portfolio does $817k comprise? It’s impossible to tell from their website. The commissioners should pull the entire amount out immediately. Can’t really tell if it’s 466k or 817k or 1.2 million, but they need to get it out of there. Why in the world would anyone with a scrap of investment experience let this happen, and weren’t the Commissioners hoping to reduce their obligation to the pension fund this year to meet the budget? Anyone expecting a pension from the county should be making some calls.

       
    • That’s what I thought. He says they need to sign to get more info, then he says they need to sign to say they had the info. Sounds like the money is gone, and they’re trying to drag this out.

       
  1. He is held responsible by FINRA and the SEC to fully disclose everything. To make sure its understood and to have a sign off. otherwise he could go to jail for misrepresentation fraud you name it. Its called CYOA

     
    • Disclosure requirements apply when new money is being invested or when the broker proposes that funds in an existing investment be reallocated. Here, the situation is that a portion of the county’s existing investment reached its full term. The funds represented by that particular portion which reached full term were required to immediately be paid to the county pursuant to the existing contract. The broker had no right to withhold from the county those particular funds.

       
  2. What a bunch of idiots! Sidecar Fund diluted shares because of more investors. That’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. The only one in that picture that doesn’t look concerned is the esteemed treasurer. I have to wonder if this is something out of her bag of tricks?

     
  3. Exactly why I don’t trust the county and why can’t we take our money out if you no longer have anything to do with the county pension

     
  4. Ok, I have to ask. What the fuck was Danny babbling about exactly? I just picture him being put at the kids table while the adults are talking.

     
    • Worrying so much about his buddy Joe Askar that he is losing his scorecard on who the hell he is supporting or covering for. Over his head. So much info now that the family name isn’t going to help him. he can’t “Camp” out and just collect a paycheck

       
      • Camp won’t be in there long enough to collect a pension. He’ll have get one from the PA Turnpike. HIT THE ROAD JACK!

         
  5. Anthony Tomasello is the Chairman of the Board at Novian Health, one of the companies he is pushing in his advisory role. Is that even legal?

     
  6. The bigger question is why was the investment even made in the first place? It’s a high risk investment vehicle that is not typically done in a government pension plan. It was made against the wishes of the investment advisor (the expert). I’d be curious on the vote for the initial investment….I’m sure there was some back scratching going on!

     
  7. “No disrespect but I’m not sure if any of you on this Board are either accredited investors or qualified investors, or quite honestly financial specialists, and you don’t need to be…”

    Surely, Connie Javens should have taken issue with that. She is an expert in creative investing and financing.

    Jeeesh…no respect.

     
  8. Excerpt from Anthony Tomasello Bio. Anybody see the obvious link with healthcare focus and investment? Did he have any role in the Comp/Friendship deal? Who are his local ties? Why is the county invested with him and how did he get the sale? By the sounds of the meeting he was very condescending toward members (maybe rightfully so). Too damn pushy to ne if he’s holding my money. I’d cut his ass loose immediately before they find out that this very well can be a type of Ponzi scheme. He wouldn’t be the first “financial advisor” expert to take the loot and scoot.
    Currently, as its Chairman and majority shareholder, he guides the strategic activities of Novian Health, a FDA approved breast tumor therapy company; as a founding investor, he supports the commercial launch of ROND, Inc. a web-based data analysis and management company: and he is a past member of the Board of Directors of a joint venture with the University of Utah to commercialize technologies issuing from the University staff. Mr. Tomasello is a Trustee and Finance Committee member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Director and Finance Committee member of Community Schools and Founding Supporter of Man-Up Pittsburgh.
    At iNetworks, he focuses on providing strategic technical and commercial guidance to its portfolio companies with the goal of minimizing execution risk and enhancing shareholder returns. Additionally, he will leverage his networks to identify investment opportunities for inclusion in the iNetworks portfolio.

     
  9. The best part was seeing the Queen in full summer regalia for this event. Why does she not show for answering questions to the public on Wednesdays? Be gone knaves, no one questions the Queen. It seems like every time we turn around there is another f-ck up concerning finances, investments and fiduciary responsibility. I honestly fear that there is cash missing, misappropriated or used for unauthorized purposes. Not counting the Ridge fiasco. This county could very well be broke and no one figured it out yet! Queen looks like the cat that swallowed the canary. Anyone remember back at the budget debacle when she was arguing with board members on investments. Is this relevant to the current fiasco? Money and power are usually at the root of corruption, especially in government circles. Follow the money and see whose names appear as recommenders or provide access. Something stinks and it is emanating from the BC outhouse.

     
  10. HOW THE FUCK CAN FEDERAL REGULATED PENSION MONEY BE INVESTED IN MARIJUANA???

    WHEN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOESN’T ALLOW BANKS TO HOLD AND INSURE THE MONEY???

    Mind you I’m not against medical marijuana and I think it’s great medical tool for the sick.

    But this can’t be legal

     
  11. Condescending much, Tomasello? Nobody around that table had a clue, no one thought for him/herself. I’m sure they still don’t know just what they signed or any logical reason why they signed other than a cue from somebody else sitting there.

     
  12. Medical marijuana????, IT, Health Care and Life sciences…. I don’t know that I would put my own money into those sectors, let alone a lot of “Someone else’s” monies for a pension investment. Those are some speculative names in that holding, a lot of small caps in volatile sectors.

     
  13. “Fedeles did not review the contract”. How is it ok to be so ill-prepared? Did he not know about the meeting until he got there?

     
  14. OMG – what the hell is going on? My opinion? Something is rotten in Denmark. Sorry but the county employees deserve a pension fund with a nice steady rate of return. They’re not angel investors nor should they be. Rossi is right to be frustrated and he is absolutely correct on his “NO” vote(s). Here’s what irks me. You want a VC fund run by a bunch of dodgy elderly white men who likely have very little understanding of the lightning speed of technology shifts today. They tout their interns on their web-site. Why? Take a guess. And they’re asking BC to allocate their distribution to a sidecar months after a distribution should have been made? Good grief! Only when the tide goes out do you see who has been swimming naked….Warren Buffet

     
  15. As a former registered investment advisor, this investment most likely was not appropriate for the level of risk that a pension fund should be exposed to, let alone the fact that it was invested with local companies and that affinity can cloud peoples judgements. Also, why do they even have an investment advisor if they vote against his recommendations? If I were him I would have quit at that point. Mr. Tomasella is blowing smoke. Pay the fucking money!

     
    • Odd, isn’t it, that commenters here can see through this deal by only being provided with the narrative of the conversations and a little background? Why wasn’t it so transparent to those of the original dealing? This guy is a smooth talking salesman. Can’t you see that? Get the money, run, and don’t look back.

       
  16. How is it that both the treasurer and the controller were unaware that the funds were not disbursed to the county for such an extended amount of time? If you are expecting a large sum of money to be deposited on or around a certain date then you check on and around that date to see if it was. If it wasn’t you pick up the phone and call iNetworks to follow up.

    In any company within the private sector, one or both of these employees would most likely be fired for not following up appropriately. Without a recall provision in PA this group spends far too much time trying to clean up messes of their own making.

    It’s no wonder something’s like Connie has continued to seek re-election for so many decades…it is one of the only jobs where you can’t be fired for gross incompetence.

     
  17. Seems to me that Beaver County Retirement Board has made some risky investments before. LCA-Vision comes to mind as BCRB filed as the plaintiff against them in 2007 for misrepresenting financial forecasts of investment return %. The case was dismissed with prejudice for improper filing in 2009. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-ohsd-1_07-cv-00750/pdf/USCOURTS-ohsd-1_07-cv-00750-0.pdf

    Then BCRB amended their complaint asking for reconsideration based on new evidence. This motion was denied. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-ohsd-1_07-cv-00750/pdf/USCOURTS-ohsd-1_07-cv-00750-1.pdf

    So while this is historical information, it shows that there has been prior “un-infomed” decisions about investments that turned out to be risky.

     
  18. Is there a relative of l Network’s, like sister that works or worked for some time for Treasurer Javens?

    Amadio, ” I will motion to vote at advice off solicitor” always had to hide behind someone. How about . Ohhhh shit I put nearly 10 million as chairman of pension board money in a Ponzi scheme. And it’s about to blow up. Shit reminds me of back in the day when we had the pyramid scandal in center twp. Wheww I free from that. Run back to your little corrupt town.

    Camp.. I will sign it, I don’t want to be liable? Liable for what, this kid calling shots and doesn’t have a clue. Heck start using Google for advice, it will keep your freedom.

     
    • Great point! An investigation into links with the Queen would be a logical step for a sharp D. Alas and alack, all we are saddled with is the bumbling Stonewall and his cast of overmatched ADA’s. I believe the French or the Arabs last won before the Beaver County DA. How humiliating. Spot on with No Nothing See Nothing Amadio. In the rear with the gear, looking for cover from the attorney’s for his lack of backbone and leadership. Camp sucking his thumb and trying to get a clue.

       
  19. It appears that there will be no investigation into the Queens links. What is needed here is a civilian over site board.

     
  20. Typical beaver county politics nepotism and talk my wife has been working at the former beaver county home for 40 years and I have lived here 60 years and the taxpayers allow this b’s to go on like a flock of sheep so degrading and you all are surprised wtf

     
  21. No surprises just business as usual in Beaver County. You can write all the investigative articles you can. But when people wont stand up for themselves all you can do is watch the sheep aimlessly wonder around Beaver County.

     

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