BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) — Unknown to some key county officials, pension funds from both Allegheny County and Beaver County were invested in a newly formed medical marijuana company that applied for — but did not win — any Pennsylvania licenses to grow, process, or dispense medical cannabis.
“It’s madness,” Beaver County Commission chair Sandie Egley told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Egley, who also chairs the county’s pension board, says she was shocked to learn that at least a quarter million dollars of Beaver pension funds were funneled into a company called Penn Alt Organics by Pittsburgh venture capital group iNetworks Opportunity Fund.
Delano: “Would you have approved of that?”
Egley: “Absolutely not.”
Delano: “Do you think it’s risky business?”
Egley: “It is very risky business.”
It’s one thing for investors to knowingly invest their own money in something as speculative as medical marijuana.
But to use the retirement dollars of county employees without their knowledge or even the knowledge of county officials is, to many, very troublesome.
iNetworks apparently joined with others to create Penn Alt Organics, with the senior managing director of iNetworks — Anthony Tomasello — also serving as chief financial officer of Penn Alt Organics.
Tomasello did not return phone calls.
The Beaver County Pension Board invested $8 million in iNetworks, while sources tell KDKA that the Allegheny County Retirement Board also invested $4 million in iNetworks although it’s unclear how much of that ended up in the marijuana project.
The whole process leaves lots of unanswered questions, says Egley, including whether any pension dollars were lost.
“I will be asking many questions. I have calls in to a lot of people. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. Our employees deserve answers,” she says.