US presidential contender had ties to disgraced GP

Evan Bayh, an Indiana senator who is considering a run for the White House, once advised a New York firm run by Todd Berman, who was subsequently sent to prison for theft.

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, a former member of the board of senior advisors at New York-based private equity firm Chartwell Investments, announced plans to form an exploratory committee for the 2008 presidential election on the ABC News political talk show “This Week” on Sunday, December 3.

Prior to joining Chartwell in 1997, Bayh served as the governor of Indiana for two terms. He left the firm in 1998 when he was elected to be a senator of Indiana in 1998. He was elected to serve a second senate term in 2004. Bayh, a Democrat, is a member of five Senate committees, including the banking, housing and urban affairs committee, the armed services committee, the select committee on intelligence, the special committee on aging and the small business committee, according to the committee’s website.

While Bayh was affiliated with Chartwell, Todd Berman was Chartwell’s president. Berman left the firm in disgrace in 2003 after acknowledging that he had stolen more than $1 million in cash advances from the firm. According to a 2004 indictment, Berman first stole from Chartwell in 1999, the same year its inaugural third party fund made its first close on $135 million. That fund made a final close the following year at $250 million. Berman used money from Chartwell and its portfolio companies to fund travel, restaurant costs and lodging for personal trips to multiple locations, including Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Johannesburg, South Africa, St. John, Antigua and Aspen, Colorado.

By 2001, the indictment says, Berman was transferring money from Chartwell’s accounts into his own and altered the firm’s financial statements in order to evade discovery. Berman’s theft was in fact noticed, however, in 2003. That October, the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York charged him with embezzling more than $3.6 million. Berman pleaded guilty to the charges of fraud in Manhattan federal court on December 6, 2004. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison and is currently serving his term at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, a high security male prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Whether Bayh’s former association with Berman will hurt his presidential prospects in 2008 remains to be seen. For now, he says he is remaining focused on how he can help America should he choose to run and should he be elected.

“The important thing, George, is that I care deeply about our country,” Bayh told Stephonopoulos on “This Week”. “I’m distressed about the direction we’re going in. We’re a great nation with great opportunities, but we’re not fulfilling our potential today.”