Venture Capitalist & Pension Investor Speaks Out On Investing County Dollars In Medical Cannabis

BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) — Calling it madness, Beaver County Commissioner Sandie Egley, who chairs the county pension board, objected to county pension dollars being invested in medical cannabis, as she told KDKA money editor Jon Delano recently.

Delano: “Would you have approved of that?”
Egley: “Absolutely not.”
Delano: “Do you think it’s risky business?”
Egley: “It is very risky business.”

iNetworks, a private equity venture capital firm directed by Anthony Tomasello, manages $8 million pension dollars from Beaver and another $11 million pension dollars from Allegheny County.

In his first television interview on the subject, Tomasello says only a few dollars were invested in Penn Alt Organics that bid — unsuccessfully — to sell medical marijuana.

KDKA asked him how much money came out of Beaver pension funds for medical cannabis.

Tomasello: “Approximately $200,000.”
Delano: “And how much money did you invest from the Allegheny county pension?”
Tomasello: “That would have been roughly about 300, 325. It’s a total investment of about $600,000 from the fund into Penn Alt.”
Delano: “Is it a smart decision to invest county employees’ pension dollars in a company that has not yet licensed to do anything in Pennsylvania?”
Tomasello: “Relative to the rewards that’s there, the answer is yes.”

Tomasello insists pension money invested in Penn Alt isn’t really lost.

“It actually hasn’t been lost, Jon,” he said. “The issue is that money was used to, number one, develop the company, number two, prep for the application, and a large part of the application is already re-usable.”

Re-usable in the second round of licenses, expected next year.

But besides his senior position at iNetworks, Tomasello is also the chief financial officer of Penn Alt Organics.

Delano: “You were not double-dealing?”
Tomasello: “I am not. We receive no compensation for the work we do.”

Tomasello says his unpaid position at Penn Alt is merely to protect the pension dollars invested.

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