The Sun-Herald reported that the Jackson County Board of Supervisors stated the problems with the Singing River Health Systems was some bad investments made by the pension fund. Nobody took any money. Case closed. Now leave us alone. The newspaper reported:
Jackson County leaders say they haven't found theft or embezzlement in their investigation of the Singing River Health System's failing pension plan.
The board of supervisors issued a news release Tuesday night. Board attorney Billy Guice said in the release that county leaders are trying to find a solution to the hospital's pension failure without a tax increase.
He also says the cost of defending the lawsuits over the plan is currently being paid by the hospital system's liability insurance carrier and not being charged to the trust.
Guice also said supervisors were not advised and had no knowledge that health system officials had decided to stop contributing to the pension fund after 2009.
Guice said a year before that big decision was made, the Employers' Retirement Plan and Trust reportedly suffered a 25 percent investment loss. He said there is no evidence that any Health System senior officer withdrew his or her individual contributions in anticipation of the failure of the Pension Trust..... Rest of article.
How convenient. However, the statement says nothing about fraud or creating fraudulent financial statements. Is the use of the words "embezzlement" or "theft" a red herring of sorts? The newspaper's editorial board was none too please about this possible whitewash:
Once again, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors is trickling out bits of information without addressing the core issue at Singing River Health System.Guice is being very disingenuous. He said " supervisors were not advised and had no knowledge that health system officials had decided to stop contributing to the pension fund after 2009." They were given the annual audits of Singing River every year. The information stating the pension plan was severely underfunded was clearly stated in the audits. They simply chose not to read them. Nice try, Mr. Guice.
That issue is, of course: What happened to the pension fund?
Before any remedies are considered, either criminal or civil, or any tax increase is levied to pay for a pension shortfall for that matter, we need to know what caused the plan to fail and who is responsible.
The investigation ordered by the supervisors, the same group ultimately responsible for overseeing SRHS and those running its pension plan, deemed there was no theft or embezzlement from the plan.
But that just begs the question as to what happened.
We know SRHS stopped making its contributions to the plan, even though it was required to make them. We know pension documents indicated payments were being made even though payments weren't being made.
We'd like to know what to call that -- but Billy Guice, the attorney who put out the latest press release for the Board of Supervisors -- isn't taking questions. Rest of editorial.
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Sun-Herald calls out Board of Supervisors
Singing River Saga Dec. 15: Supes make deal to see own records.
Singing River Saga Dec. 12: The court fights begin.
Singing River Saga Dec. 8: "Who knew what when" is the question.
Cartoon on Singing River
Singing River Saga, December 5: Judge freezes pension liquidation.
Adding more pieces to the Singing River puzzle
Singing River on December 3: Liquidate Pension Plan
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Singing River audit
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What the hell was going on at Singing River?