A judge has cancelled the state pension and healthcare benefits of disgraced former Jersey City Police Chief Philip Zacche, who admitted taking $31,000 in corrupt payments for off-duty security details he did not work.
Zacche was sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty on Jan. 5, 2018 to stealing the federal funds for unworked off-duty jobs at the Marion Gardens housing complex in Jersey City.
“I messed up big time,” he said at the sentencing hearing on Aug. 14. “I’m so disgusted with myself.”
The order revoking his pension was signed on June 27 and it cancels Zacche’s state pension as of the day he pleaded guilty. Zacche, who served 38 years on the force, received a pension of nearly $12,000 per month, totaling more than $71,000 to date in 2019 and more than $143,000 in 2018.
The judge’s order allows Zacche, 63, to retain only benefits based on money he contributed to his pension, but the state will no longer contribute its portion. The story was first reported by Hudsoncountyview.com
It was not immediately clear if the state will attempt to claw back its portion of benefits Zacche received after he pleaded guilty in federal court. Nor was it clear how much in benefits he will retain based on his contribution alone.
The action, brought by the state Attorney General’s Office, also prohibits Zacche from ever holding public employment or any position of trust or honor and states that if he applies for such a position, he could be prosecuted. The AG argued that Zacche’s crime was directly related to his employment as a cop.
“The financial impact of termination of my pension and other benefits will be nothing short of cataclysmic,” Zacche said in a letter to the judge in opposition to the AG’s motion.
The former chief argued that having his pension and benefits cut would amount to punishing him twice for the same offense and would be “unbalanced and unjust.”
Zacche told the judge he has paid more than $52,000 in fines and restitution for his crime. He said he has three daughters, and one of them remains on his health plan.
“I will never be able to afford COBRA.”
The former chief noted that he is worth about $1 million, but that includes a home valued at $450,000 and three vehicles. He said his wife works part time at a supermarket. Zacche said he has an investment account, IRA’s and savings and checking accounts, but they “do not produce sustainable income.”
When Zacche retired in 2017, he cashed out 450 sick, vacations and comp days for $512,000.
In the letter to the judge, Zacche noted the “public stigma, shame and humiliation” his crime has already caused.
“I loved my 38-year career as a police officer who rose through the ranks to become chief of police,” Zacche said in the statement.
“Nevertheless, I believe that the loss of my entire pension, on top of the punishment already meted out, is so unbalanced and unjust,” said the the former chief who retired in June 2017 with a salary of more than $200,000. “My family will now have to endure this punishment as well.”