Judge Slaps Travel Curbs on Detroit Pension High Flyers

February 28, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The next time a globetrotting member of the city of Detroit pension board wants to travel out of state on official business, it must be with the OK of a Michigan judge.

According to the Detroit News, Circuit Judge John Gillis Jr.’s order comes as the pension board’s total travel bill nearly topped $600,000 since 1999 while three of the trustees spent $321,168 on trips from 1999 to 2002.

In a temporary restraining order, Gillis restricted the 10 trustees of the $2.2-billion General Retirement System to traveling around Michigan on board business without advance approval, according to the News. The Gillis order came in a lawsuit filed by the trustees against the city of Detroit and chief financial officer Sean Werdlow. A final ruling is expected by the end of April.

The trustees filed the lawsuit after Werdlow questioned Thomas Sheehan in the Finance Department about why he was spending days away from his job. The board argued in court filings that Sheehan’s work on the pension board took precedence over his job as an investment agent for the city. The dispute over Sheehan sparked a review by Werdlow, who discovered the travel.