Guilty Plea Expected from West Coast Placement Agent in Pension Probe

May 12, 2009 ( - The Wall Street Journal is reporting that an associate of the indicated political operative charged in the ongoing New York pension pay-to-play investigation is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and agree to cooperate in the investigation.

According to the Journal, quoting unnamed sources,Julio Ramirez, 48, is the second person in the two-year-old probe to plead guilty and the sixth to be criminally charged. The newspaper said the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is working with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in the investigation, is also expected to announce civil charges against Ramirez.

Both Ramirez and Hank Morris, the indicted political adviser charged in the pension probe, are placement agents who earn fees from private equity or hedge fund firms in exchange for securing a pension investment management mandate (see  Report: Auto Czar’s Investment Firm Focus of Pay-to-Play Probe ).

Ramirez, based in the Los Angeles area, is pleading guilty for his participation in a series of fraudulent transactions between Morris and others, the Journal quoted its anonymous sources as saying.  

According to the Journal, Ramirez’ guilty plea comes in connection with dealings between Morris and a Los Angeles-based placement agent firm called Wetherly Capital Group (see  Harrigan Resigns from LA Pension Board ), as well as a Dallas-based firm called Aldus Equity Partners (see DiNapoli Sues Aldus over Pay-to-Play Scheme ).

The news report indicated that Ramirez recommended to Wetherly in 2003, where he was then employed, that the firm work with Morris to get pension business, according to a Wetherly spokesman.

Wetherly has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Separately, Ramirez told Saul Meyer in 2004, founder of Aldus Equity, that Aldus should hire Morris if it wanted help securing money from New York’s state pension fund, according to people familiar with the matter, the Journal reported.

Meyer last month was charged with securities fraud in the case by the New York attorney general. He has pleaded not guilty.