OHIO WORKERS' COMP Investment probe focuses on agency's former CFO

Terrence Gasper was cleared of wrongdoing in a 1997 investigation.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Investigators probing $300 million in investment losses by the state's insurance fund for injured workers are focusing on the man who managed the bureau's finances for nearly a decade, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Terrence Gasper, 58, was forced out as the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's chief financial officer last year and is being looked at specifically in connection with the investigation of MDL Capital Investments, the newspaper reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources. MDL is a Pittsburgh firm that lost $215 million in bureau assets through high-risk investments.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien would not provide specific details about Gasper but said a combined state-federal task force wants to interview him.
A message seeking comment was left Sunday at Gasper's home.
Gasper's lawyer, Terrence Grady, said investigators have no reason to suspect Gasper of wrongdoing.
"I have seen absolutely no evidence or basis whatsoever, nor am I aware of any evidence suggesting any level of criminality -- or even an implication of criminality -- by Mr. Gasper," Grady said.
Questioned early on
Gasper, who arrived at the bureau in September 1995, had the support of Paul Mifsud, who was chief of staff for then-Gov. George Voinovich. Mifsud has since died.
Gasper had been at the bureau less than two years when he was questioned in an internal inquiry about possible political favoritism regarding investments. The allegation involved Key Bank Corp., where Mifsud was seeking a job as a lobbyist.
Gasper also was questioned about his friendship with an official of Roney & amp; Co., a Detroit broker and investment firm that did business with the bureau. He was cleared of wrongdoing in 1997.
James McLean, the bureau's former chief investment officer who was fired last week, has said that when he started questioning MDL losses last spring, Gasper told him MDL was "a friend of the bureau."
By the fall, losses had reached about $120 million, but McLean said Gasper told him that former bureau Administrator James Conrad and George Forbes, a member of the bureau's oversight commission, wanted to "give MDL a break."
Conrad and Forbes have denied the conversation. Grady said his client denies it as well.
Conrad told Gasper to resign or be fired after learning that Gasper had signed the MDL deal on behalf of the bureau without Conrad's knowledge.

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