- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state attorney general is preparing to sue former New York Stock Exchange head Dick Grasso and his former board members over nearly $120 million in retirement benefits Mr. Grasso received, a source familiar with the case said yesterday.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office is in settlement talks with Mr. Grasso and board members, but was “leaning toward” bringing a lawsuit if the negotiations fail, the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The suit would accuse Mr. Grasso and the board members who approved the lavish package of failing in their fiscal responsibilities under state nonprofit organization law, the source said.

Mr. Grasso left office Sept. 17 amid a public furor after the NYSE’s revelation that he had been awarded $187.5 million in retirement benefits and deferred compensation.

Mr. Spitzer’s plans to sue Mr. Grasso and the board were first reported yesterday by the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Spitzer wouldn’t comment on the investigation yesterday when asked after an appearance at a meeting of the state cable association. Mr. Grasso’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We have been examining that issue,” which could take weeks, Mr. Spitzer said. “I have not come to any conclusion and we are still gathering data.”

Mr. Spitzer has successfully brought cases against other nonprofit organizations and foundations over what was termed “unjust enrichments.” In those cases, the key was whether compensation packages and other spending was similar to spending at other foundations about the same size.

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