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Pension probe widens to include DiNapoli

ALBANY - A 2007 meeting that state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli had with a company seeking to do business with the state pension fund is being investigated as part of a long-running corruption probe of his predecessor, Alan Hevesi.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Thursday looking into the April 5, 2007, session at which Intermedia Advisors, a private equity firm, successfully sought a larger investment from the pension fund.

The meeting with DiNapoli, like previous ones with Hevesi, was facilitated by Global Strategy Group, a political consulting firm used by Cuomo, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and others. Cuomo said Thursday that Global hadn't worked for him in years.

Thursday, Cuomo announced a $2-million settlement with Global and its chief executive Jon Silvan for failure to be licensed as intermediaries for people seeking pension business. The settlement covers the DiNapoli meeting.

DiNapoli denied wrongdoing, saying he had spent the past three years restoring integrity to pension decisions. Hevesi has been accused of placing pension money with firms in return for contributions to his political campaigns.

"I have managed . . . with transparency and integrity from the start of my tenure [in February 2007]," said DiNapoli, a Great Neck resident. "Any suggestion or innuendo to the contrary is baseless."

Cuomo declined to comment when asked about DiNapoli's stewardship of the $129.4-billion Common Retirement Fund. The comptroller is the fund's sole trustee, an arrangement Cuomo is seeking to change.

Cuomo, the state's most popular Democrat, also sidestepped a question about backing fellow Democrat DiNapoli in the fall elections. The pair has feuded for several years.

In a telephone conference with reporters, prosecutor Linda Lacewell, a key member of Cuomo's team, confirmed its three-year probe had now expanded beyond Hevesi to DiNapoli. "We are pursuing the facts of the case," she said.

Before meeting with DiNapoli, Intermedia won a $50-million investment from the pension fund in 2005 under Hevesi. That deal had been facilitated by Global.

The pension fund invested another $15 million in Intermedia nearly two weeks after executives met with DiNapoli. Intermedia had sought $50 million, however.

Lacewell declined to say whether investigators had interviewed DiNapoli. DiNapoli said they had not. "I have built my career in public service on honest and ethical behavior," he said, referring to his 20 years in the Assembly and three as comptroller.

The Global settlement was among five announced Thursday by Cuomo that will result in about $12 million being repaid to New York, mostly to the pension fund. Since the probe began, more than $130 million has been recovered.

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