The combination of extortion and the use of threats to air an alleged extramarital affair against a state official is probably not the best way to win an investment contract at the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF).
Giridhar Sekar, a Brookline, Mass. resident and former managing partner at FA Technology Ventures, learned this the hard way yesterday when a federal jury in Albany convicted him for his use of extortion and threats against the General Counsel for the New York State Comptroller’s Office.
Federal Authorities said in the April 18 announcement that Sekhar sent electronic mail messages to the Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s general counsel from the period between Nov. 1, 2009 and Dec. 1, 2009. The onslaught of messages, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, was to force the counsel to recommend DiNapoli to commit a proposed $35 million investment to the firm.
Previously, according to the indictment, the General Counsel, whose name is not listed, made a recommendation against the commitment, which was later not approved by the CRF’s sole trustee.
In a conversation today, Assistant U.S. attorney William Pericak told IMMP that this suggestion to not carry out the investment came as a result of the commitment’s link to placement agent usage. He explained that initially the investment to FA Technology Ventures was approved, but was not funded due to the firm’s connection to Patricia Lynch Associates (PLA), a lobbyist firm that agreed to pay nearly $500,000 through an agreement with then New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in December.
Also, PLA founder, Patricia Lynch, was banned from stepping foot within the state Comptroller’s office for a five-year period after charges that she “sought to curry favor” at the state CFO office “by arranging contributions for Alan Hevesi’s campaign, a consulting contract for the daughter of the Chief of Staff’s girlfriend, and gifts worth thousands of dollars for the daughter.”
Because the recommendation was made by the General Counsel, Sekhar threatened to disclose an alleged extramarital affair unless the individual approved the investment to DiNapoli, the Dec. 3, 2010 indictment listed.
According to Pericak, Sekhar’s prior employer did not testify during the trial. He explained that they have since distanced themselves from the proceedings.
Sekhar was convicted on one count of attempted extortion, and five counts of interstate transmission of an extortionate threat. He was acquitted of one other charge, however, the Albany U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.
He is scheduled for sentencing in August, Pericak disclosed.