Cohasset settles with Mike Coughlin

 Four days before the Coughlin lawsuit against the Town of Cohasset quickly settled with Coughlin (January 14th)  for what Town Manager Chris Senior alleges is 285,000: $200,000 from insurance with $85,000  being the Town’s share. Let’s just say we doubt it.

In an attempt to get a hold of this matter, this blogger spoke with two current and three retired town officials and a town manager from another town. All six supplied a settlement number from between $85,000 to $650,000. None of the six could provide details.

Questions: did the town pay Coughlin’s retirement, Coughlin’s legal bills? Was any consideration given for the stroke Coughlin acquired shortly after he was fired? Was any consideration given for the fact that Town of Cohasset officials bad-mouthed Coughlin on-line and in print for the next 2-3 years after he left town?

 Today, February 14th., 2017 I read a Boston Globe on-line article about the settlement and learned that the town’s press release on the matter was released last Friday. When I asked for the press release Tuesday morning (four days later)  I was told I had to send an email to get it. Three hours later it has still not arrived.  Normally, press releases are sent to the press and the press and interested parties do not have to beg for them. Bizarre.   

In the Globe’s on-line article late Tuesday morning (Feb. 14) Globe reporter Nestor Ramos had already interviewed Peter DeCaprio on the matter. DeCaprio, a former water commissioner, said he was never in conflict of the interest in the matter and that Coughlin’s whistleblower suit was a ruse to collect big dollars from the town. DeCaprio sold his house and moved – in 2014.

 ( Background: In 2011-2012 former water commissioner Peter DeCaprio was planning to give Cohasset Water to give Aquarian via a 20-year concession contract; concurrently, Hingham town officials were trying to chew off their arms and legs to get out of its Aquarian trap with spiraling water fees and little and no attention being paid to the infrastructure and dried up streams. Was DeCaprio in conflict of interest, with his company Crow Point Partners being involved with water utilities and Aquarian up the ying yang? From leaked e-mails we learned that town counsel’s firm had allegedly advised selectmen that DeCaprio had actionable conflict interests given the investment portfolio of his hedge fund. Then Town Manager Mike Coughlin urged the town to not enter into a 20-year concession agreement and was ultimately fired. The Town said he was fired because he did not communicate, next it said he was hard to get along with. Coughlin said it was over the concession contract and filed a whistleblower lawsuit in 2013.)

 On Valentine’s Day 2017 I visited Norfolk Superior Court and look into what I imagined would be boring files and instead discovered an interesting report from Patrick F. Kelleher, CPA CFF, a partner at Meaden & Moore, who had been hired by Coughlin’s attorney, Lawyers’ Weekly favorite attorney Harold Lichten, to examine the holdings of Peter DeCaprio’s company, Crow Point Partners.

 On August 9, 2016, Kelleher reported on relationships between DeCaprio’s funds, equities /companies and individuals. Here’s the entire report:  Meaden & Moore wp

 Kelleher said, in summary:

“Counsel provided the names of individuals who served on the Cohasset Board of Selectmen and other town committees in 2011 and 2012. Among these individuals were Mr. Paul Carlson, who served on the Cohasset Board of Selectmen and the Water Planning Committee and Mr. Jack Keniley, who served on the Capital Budget committee in 2011 and 2012. Based on our review, we observed that Mr. Keniley and Mr Carlson served as independent trustees for Crow Point dividend Plus Fund for the period of February 2015 through May 2016. The SEC filings indicate that Keniley and Carlson were both paid $12,500 for their positions as independent trustees, as well as $250 per committee meeting. Additionally, Keniley and Carlson served on the following committees within the Crow Point dividend Plus Fund:”

 From the report: Keniley was Chairman of the Audit and Nominating Committee, for which he received another $2,000 plus $1,000 for the nominating committee role. Keniley’s and Carlson’s tenure as trustees ended in May 2016, or 7 months into the next fiscal year, when payments to be begin. It is possible they were paid for their services during this time.

“Additionally, Mr. Ralph Dormitzer was the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen and a member of the Cohasset Governance Committee. Based on our analysis of the Crow Point Partners, LLC Operating “Agreement, Mr. Dormitzer was listed as a potential client and legacy investor to Crow Point on Exhibits E and F of that agreement, respectively. This may indicate “Crow Point’s intention to seek investment funds from this individual or the individual’s intention and potential historical investment in funds advised and / or managed by Mr. Peter DeCaprio.”

 Kelleher also reported that during the years 2011 and 2012, he determined that Mr. Peter DeCaprio maintained discretion over funds and acted as a sub-advisory to funds that invested money in stock or other securities related to the companies providing water and sewer services to the Town of Cohasset. One of these, Macquaries Infrastructure, owned a subsidiary, Aquarion Water, which was in the process of bidding on the water services for the Town of Cohasset.

 Also, Kelleher noted that the value of the shares under Mr. DeCaprio’s discretion in 2011 and 2012 were either offering or bidding services to the Town of Cohasset were $38 million in 2011 and $33 million in 2012.

 Wells Fargo / Evergreen Investments – Kelleher said Mr. Peter DeCaprio had an historical relationship with at least three funds that maintained investments in water utility companies that had ongoing contracts in 2011 and 2012 with the Town Of Cohasset, where Mr. DeCaprio is the Water Commissioner.  And, through his relationship with Mr. Timothy O’Brien and his membership in Crow Point Partners, also served as sub-advisor to the Wells Fargo Utility and Telecommunications Fund; which held Macquaries infrastructure, the parent company of Aquarion Water Company in 2011.

 Crow Point Partners, LLC – In 2008 Mr. DeCaprio invested funds under its discretion in the water utility company Aquarion Water Company which was bidding for the water contract for the Town of Cohasset in 2010. Additionally, Mr. DeCaprio’s company was provided with initial start-up capital by the subsidiary of the bank that owned Aquarion.

 While Mr. DeCaprio was a member of the Cohasset Water Commission, 2010-2012, Crow Point held assets in American Water Works, which held the water contract for the Town of Cohasset. The value of funds under his discretion, related to American Water Works, ranged from $7 to $13 million.

 Finally, under Compensation of DeCaprio in the report, it is Kelleher’s understanding that DeCaprio is compensated with an annual salary and his pro rata distribution of any profits that Crow Point Partners, LLC may make during a given fiscal year.

 Yes. We can well understand why the Town settled with Coughlin. But we doubt it was for $285,000. The evidence against the Town of Cohasset is way too rich.

 Wasn’t the town just given some kind of an award for transparency? Must have been an accident.


© Copyright 2017 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed