Ohio STRS: Dyer Charged with Taking Consultant Gifts

August 4, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The controversial former executive director of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) has been charged with five misdemeanor violations of Ohio ethics laws for accepting gifts from a consultant, STRS announced.

An STRS news release said that the charges against Herb Dyer, who ran the fund from November 1992 to August 2003, related to accepting such items as meals and golf fees from the board’s investment consultant, Frank Russell Company.  

The fund insisted in its statement that officials have never shown any favoritism to Russell and that Dyer’s activities had never endangered members’ assets.

“Further, STRS Ohio has taken strong steps to ensure it has policies, procedures and safeguards in place to ensure that both current and potential vendors and all associates know that any gifts, regardless of their value, are prohibited,” STRS said in the announcement.

The pension fund, which serves more than 430,000 active and retired teachers and has $54.6 billion under management, was wracked by scandal in 2003 after it was revealed that the fund had granted generous employee bonuses, allowed frequent board member travel and purchased expensive artwork at the pension fund’s headquarters (See  Buckeye State Fund Tightens its Belt ).

The revelations came as many retirees learned that their health insurance premiums would soon double, in part because of the fund’s investment losses.

Since then, Dyer was forced to resign as executive director – with a $550,000 buyout (See Dyer Steps Down From Ohio STRS Post ). Also, the board enacted new travel, ethics and employee bonus policies, and the Ohio House and Senate approved competing bills to increase oversight.