By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

PHOENIX (AP) - The chairman and vice chairman of the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System have been stripped of their leadership positions following a report they were paid to represent a pension plan administrator in a home purchase.

Chairman Will Buividas and Vice Chairman Mike Scheidt will remain on the board overseeing the pension system, The Arizona Republic reports.

The board hires and oversees administrators who manage the $11 billion pension fund for Arizona police officers, firefighters, judges, lawmakers and correctional officers.

T​​​​​​he trustees voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Scott McCarty as the system’s new chairman. McCarty is finance director for the town of Queen Creek.

Buividas, a Phoenix police detective, and Scheidt, a Tempe firefighter, said they would not resign and declined additional comment.

Scheidt acted as real estate broker and Buividas was the loan officer for the 2018 purchase of a $550,000 Fountain Hills home by system adminstrator Jared Smout, real estate records show.

Smout reported to Buividas, Scheidt and the other board members. Buividas and Scheidt did not disclose at the time that they had been hired by Smout, according to retirement system records.

Smout was not coerced into hiring Buividas and Scheidt, and the pay of up to $6,000 each for Buividas and Scheidt reflects market rates, Smout’s attorney said.

In the months that followed the deal, Smout approved travel expenses for the two board members. Buividas, Scheidt and the rest of the board approved a retroactive raise for Smout in early 2019 that lifted his annual pay to $250,000, records show.

The 780-member Foundation of Retired Police Officers in Phoenix called for the ouster of Buividas and Scheidt before the board ruled Thursday.

Foundation representative Carl Richardson said he hoped Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams would pressure Buividas to step down.

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, a longtime critic of the public safety retirement system, said Wednesday that Buividas and Scheidt should resign.

“This kind of backroom dealing is just the tip of the iceberg,” DiCiccio said.

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