OH STRS Board Member to Plead Guilty to Ethics Violations

June 20, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Jack Chapman, a former board member for the Ohio State Teachers' Retirement System (STRS) has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of conflict-of-interest for receiving gifts from entities doing business with the board.

The Canton Repository reports that Chapman, who resigned from the board in 2004, is charged with receiving things of value from 1998 to 2003, including multiple tickets to Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers games, a golf outing in Washington state and a ticket to a Broadway show. Former board member Hazel Sidaway was convicted on similar charges in April (See Former OH Pension Board Official Sentenced to Community Service).

Chapman is expected to receive a similar sentence to Sidaway’s of community service and payment of fines, investigation costs and restitution, according to the newspaper. Prosecutors are expected to file more cases against current and former board members and other staff who allegedly took gifts from Frank Russell Corp. and Salomon Smith Barney, now Citicorp.

Ongoing investigations have already resulted in convictions of other retirement system board members, as well as a former state Treasurer and a member of the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Board. The state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation announced recently that their investigation has turned up links with the retirement board as well (See Ohio Bribery Investigation Turns to State Pension Funds). Chapman’s case is not related to the bureau’s investigation, the news report said.

Paul Nick, chief counsel for the Ohio Ethics Commission, said in the news report that the investigation does not appear to reveal “a high level of corruption” at STRS, but does implicate “recklessness” by board members who “compromised their positions.”