Leslie Moriarty is a 4-term incumbent on the all-powerful Greenwich Board of Estimation and Taxation (BET) where there is a battle brewing between Democrats and Republicans over who are the true “fiscal conservatives.”
Prior to that, Moriarty served as the Chair of the Board of Education for two of the eight years she spent on the Board. She also served as President of the PTA Council and Co-President of North Street School PTA.
According to the Democrats’ website, Moriarty was a corporate strategic and financial planning professional who was Group Vice President for W.R. Grace and VP of Business Development for W.R. Grace subsidiary Baker & Taylor.
Although W.R. Grace is famously known for its decades-long operation of an asbestos-contaminated mine in Libby, Montana that killed hundreds and sickened thousands of the town’s residents and put the company into bankruptcy, what most people don’t realize is that the giant specialty chemical and materials company also owned a book, video and software distribution company, Baker & Taylor.
As Group Vice President for W.R. Grace from 1986-1992, Moriarty was responsible for evaluating new business opportunities, optimizing existing businesses, and (perhaps most importantly) negotiating acquisitions and divestments.
In 1992, W.R. Grace divested itself of Baker & Taylor. Coincidentally or not, Moriarty left her job as Group Vice President at W.R. Grace (where she negotiated acquisitions and divestments) and assumed a new role as the VP of Business Development at Baker & Taylor.
By this time W.R. Grace was on the hook for having caused two of the worst industrial environmental disasters in the country’s history, it was getting pummeled with lawsuits from victims of asbestos poisoning in Libby, Montana, and had just reached an $8 million settlement in a landmark case with the victims of deadly water contamination in Woburn, Massachusetts, according to the L.A. Times.
Ms. Moriarty would have likely been knowledgeable about the book, video, and software distribution business, perhaps having analyzed and evaluated it as per her role as the Co-chair of the Corporate Strategic Analysis Project. One might even expect that she had intimate knowledge of the business history, strengths and weaknesses of Baker & Taylor, and would have even been heavily involved in the decision to divest considering she reported directly to the CEO at the time.
On August 2, 2000, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that Baker & Taylor had been defrauding the U.S. government over direct book purchases as well as book purchases made through local schools and libraries using federal grant funds.
It turns out Baker & Taylor had been overcharging public schools, libraries and government agencies for more than a decade, starting in the early 1980s, well before W.R. Grace divested the troubled division.
The scheme to defraud the government came to the DOJ’s attention after Robert Costa, a former city librarian for the city of Richmond, Va., and Ronald Thornburg, a former Baker & Taylor sales representative, filed a “qui tam” (whistleblower) lawsuit in 1995, the same year that Moriarty left the firm.
"This fraudulent pricing scheme didn't just rip off our libraries - it victimized our children and our schools," said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
W.R. Grace and Baker & Taylor jointly agreed to pay $12.5 million to 18 states that were co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including the state of Connecticut. Baker & Taylor paid the federal government another $3 million to resolve claims that the government had against the company in the same lawsuit.
Former Board of Education Chair, Leslie Moriarty worked for both W.R. Grace and Baker & Taylor during the time that the fraudulent book pricing scheme was being imposed upon public schools, libraries, and other government agencies.
What did Moriarty know? And when did she know it?