Ex-Pa. Treasurer Hafer to plead guilty to lying to FBI
HARRISBURG — A former Pennsylvania state treasurer has agreed to plead guilty to lying to the FBI in a case stemming from a long-running, pay-to-play investigation that has already ensnared another state treasurer.
Barbara Hafer, 73, is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday. A plea agreement filed in court Thursday said the charge calls for a maximum of five years in prison.
The Republican-turned-Democrat is the second ex-state treasurer in three years to plead guilty to federal charges. Rob McCord, a Democrat, resigned in 2015 in the middle of his second term before pleading guilty to attempted extortion in a campaign finance-related case. McCord has not yet been sentenced.
Prosecutors say Hafer, who served from 1997 through January 2005, tried to conceal payments from investment adviser Richard Ireland’s firm to her consulting firm that she started shortly after she left office. The payments began within weeks and totaled $675,000 through 2007, prosecutors say.
Ireland’s firm drew more than $10 million in fees by helping private asset managers win state Treasury Department investment contracts under Hafer, prosecutors say. Ireland also was a major campaign contributor to her.
Hafer was not charged with any corruption counts; most federal crimes have a five-year statute of limitations.
Federal agents interviewed her in May 2016 and she was charged two months later. Her lawyers initially argued that the charges were based on little more than her memory lapses.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III threw out a criminal case against Ireland, agreeing with defense lawyers that prosecutors had not proven his campaign contributions or his help in McCord’s private business affairs were intended to win official favors from McCord.
Ireland had been accused of trying to bribe McCord with campaign contributions, some made secretly through other people, to land the lucrative state investment contracts. At one point, Ireland also offered to put McCord on his payroll after McCord left office.