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BioRegion Newsmakers: Mar 30, 2009

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Montgomery County, Md., Director of Economic Development Leaves Office Amid Probe Into $25K Loan to Son's Firm

Pradeep Ganguly has "mutually" agreed to leave his position as director of economic development for Montgomery County, Md., following a county investigation into a potential conflict of interest involving his son, the county announced.

Ganguly had been placed on administrative leave with pay on March 3 by the county's chief administrative officer, Timothy Firestine, pending the county's investigation into a $25,000 loan Ganguly's department made in 2007 to Bethesda's WeddingWire, a tech startup where his son Sonny Ganguly serves as chief marketing officer. The loan could be converted into a grant if the business meets certain job creation and investment requirements, Maryland Community Newspapers reported.

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Isaiah Leggett, told the newspaper group that the search for a new director should conclude in the next few weeks, with the county now taking recommendations from officials, business executives and others: "We will bring on someone who will be the right choice to lead our economic development programs."

That person will have the chance of setting a direction for the office, which has come under fire by four council members as being too focused on luring overseas companies and not enough on retaining existing businesses by meeting their needs [See Around the Regions, this issue].

Among names mentioned in news reports as possible successors are David Dise, director of the county Department of General Services; Sally Sternbach, executive director of Rockville Economic Development Inc.; and former county councilman Steven Silverman, now director of aging, health care and special projects for the state Attorney General's Office.

Lacefield said that Ganguly, whose annual salary was $194,537, was entitled to as much as 12 weeks of severance pay, or $44,893. He was also entitled to six additional weeks of pay, or $22,447, as a participant in the county's retirement savings plan, as well as up to 600 hours of unused paid time off. Then, Ganguly was entitled to as much as six months of health insurance coverage unless he first obtained other employment with coverage.

Ganguly, like most county department directors, are "at-will" employees who serve at Leggett's discretion.

Ganguly left office after County Council members Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, Mike Knapp, and George Leventhal sent Leggett a letter urging him to replace Ganguly "at the earliest possible date." They urged the new director to be "a leader who has a comprehensive vision for the county's economic future and realistic strategies that will enable the county to navigate these troubled economic waters."

Firestine told the Washington Post he learned of the possible ethics violation after a County Council staff member spotted the loan in a report released last month and knew the younger Ganguly worked there. The Economic Development Fund has distributed $22.8 million to 143 businesses since its creation 13 years ago. The average size of its awards ranged from $3,000 to $6 million; the average was $159,440.


Boenning & Scattergood Expands Equity Research Coverage with Addition of Biotechnology Analyst

Derek Jellinek has joined the equity research team of Boenning & Scattergood, a securities, asset management and investment banking firm based in West Conshohocken, Pa., as a senior research analyst covering the biotechnology sector.

Prior to joining Boenning & Scattergood, Jellinek worked for Susquehanna Financial Group in New York as a biotechnology research analyst, where he built and maintained primary research coverage of healthcare-focused companies. Previously, Jellinek worked in a similar capacity at Roth Capital Partners in Newport Beach, Calif.

Jellinek graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BA in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. He received his PhD in genomics and proteomics from Australia's University of Sydney, and his MBA with an emphasis in finance and strategic management from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Australia.


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