Tilton's Hiring Of Retired Army Officer Faces Probe

Aug 30 2013 | 10:52am ET

The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into a private-equity firm's hiring of a former Army officer who led a unit that did business with one of its portfolio companies.

Justice has asked Lynn Tilton's Patriarch Partners for information related to its hiring of retired Col. Norbert Vergez earlier this year. Vergez led a controversial Pentagon program that spent billions buying helicopters for U.S. allies, including from Patriarch's MD Helicopters, until his retirement last year.

The request came last Friday, The New York Times reports. The government plans to look into the circumstance surrounding Vergez's hire.

Tilton said she did not know Vergez until 2011, when his program awarded MD a contract worth as much as $186 million. Vergez approached Patriarch about a job last April—with the approval of a Pentagon ethics officer, a Patriarch spokesman told the Times. He joined the private-equity firm as senior vice-president overseeing aviation and aerospace investments in February.

MD has won no new government business since Vergez's hiring.

"MD and Patriarch are squeaky clean," Tilton said. "Our only fear is any specter that the press might cast and not of any truth than an investigation will find."

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