DoJ Subpoenas San Diego Pension Officials

December 30, 2004 ( - Department of Justice (DoJ) officials have delivered subpoenas to 12 current and former San Diego officials in a criminal investigation into the handling of the city's beleaguered pension fund.

The DoJ has requested e-mails, phone logs, board meeting minutes, contracts and other records dating back to 1996, the year that San Diego cut funding to its pension system while subsequently raising benefit levels, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Subpoenas were issued to:

  • Lamont Ewell, City Manager
  • Casey Gwinn, former city attorney
  • Michael Uberuaga, former City Manager
  • George Loveland, senior deputy City Manager
  • Bruce Herring, Patricia Frazier and Ray Arellano, Deputy City Managers
  • Cathy Lexin, HR director
  • Mary Vattimo, city treasurer
  • Terry Webster, acting city auditor
  • Les Girard, assistant city attorney
  • Ron Saathoff, president of the firefighters’ union local and pension board member.

This action comes shortly after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) subpoenaed seven current and former city employees in civil investigations relating to the fund (See SEC Demands San Diego Pension Testimony, Documents ). The SEC is seeking similar documents to those requested by the DoJ, according to the AP.

The SEC first began looking into city finances shortly after city officials made their first admissions, on January 27, of errors and omissions in financial statements used by potential investors in San Diego’s bonds to assess the city’s fiscal strength (See  Pension Flap Costs San Diego City Manager His Job ). Among the omissions: the full story of the deficit in the city retirement system, now estimated at $1.2 billion.

The San Diego pension fund drew considerable attention in 1996 when city officials decided to both underfund the plan and increase benefits, a move viewed by many as irresponsible, and, apparently by some at the DoJ, as possibly criminal. For a PLANSPONSOR article on poor management at pension funds, please see  Misbehaving in Public? .