San Diego Gives Former CIO His Due

Apr 24 2009 | 9:54am ET

Five years of service has netted David Deutsch, the former chief investment officer of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, a three-month severance package, despite a pair of hedge fund scandals.

Deutsch, who resigned last month in the wake of the pension’s second involvement in a hedge fund collapse, and his attorney, Rory Wicks, met with the plan’s board to plead his case for a 12-month severance package while the plan’s compensation ordinance only allows for a maximum of six-months of compensation.

Nonetheless, Wicks, an attorney at Coast Law Group, pleaded the case for “an employee of five years who is 64 years old and facing a difficult market,” according to minutes from the plan’s March 19 meeting.

Under Deutsch’s watch, SDCERA invested in both WG Trading, the Connecticut hedge funds whose principals were arrested earlier this year, and Amaranth Advisors, which blew up in 2006 after losing some $6 billion on bad natural gas bets. The San Diego pension lost about $100 million in Amaranth, and $78 million with WG.

Wicks also argued that, as recently as November, Deutsch received outstanding performance evaluations from consultant RV Kuhns & Associates, which evaluated the performance of 60 public retirement firms and 20 pension plans concluding that SDCERA outperformed 72% of its peers and was ranked in the first percentile ranking over the five-, seven- and 10-year periods as of the end of September.

At the conclusion of Wicks arguments, the plan’s board chose to dispense a one-time lump sum severance payment, equal to three months of pay with an attachment from its legal counsel to condition on a non-disparagement clause.

Deutsch is also qualified to receive unemployment benefits from the state, amounting to some $450 a week.

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