Officer Loses Pension On Conviction Of Wire Fraud

The retirement system for San Francisco police officers is contained in the City’s charter, which created the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS). Under the charter, an individual convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed in connection with his or her official duties forfeits all rights to his or her SFERS retirement benefits. Ian Furminger was a sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and was enrolled…

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Post-Retirement Conduct Can Result In Pension Forfeiture

Paul Mahan was a correction of­ficer for the Suffolk County sheriff’s department in Massachusetts. On August 15, 2000, while attempting to restrain an inmate who was involved in a fight, Mahan severely injured his knee. Mahan’s application for accidental disability retirement was approved by the board for the Boston retirement system. Between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2013, Mahan received a combination of workers’ compen­sation benefits, “assault pay,”…

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Murder Of Ex-Wife Results In Loss Of Pension Benefits

On May 7, 2009, Drew Peterson was charged with the first-degree murder of his former wife, Kathleen Savio, who had been found dead in her bathtub on March 1, 2004. Peterson was tried and convicted in 2012 and was sentenced to 38 years in prison. From 1977 until his retirement on November 9, 2007, Peterson had been a police officer in the Bolingbrook Police Department in Illinois. On November…

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Officer Or Mother? It Matters For Pension Forfeiture

Jaime Quinn was an officer with the Sunbury, Pennsylvania Police De­partment. The Department provided her with a cell phone, which was to be used only to assist her in fulfilling her duties as a police officer, except in certain emergency situations or with departmen­tal approval. Despite this requirement, Quinn gave her Department-issued phone to her son in October 2016 for his personal use, in order to replace another cell…

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Pension Benefits Not Offset By Workers’ Comp Attorney Fees

Heather Bass was a Kansas City, Missouri police officer who sustained a duty-related injury in January 2008. Because of the injury, she was retired by the Department and became eligi­ble to receive duty-related disability pension benefits from the City’s Police Retirement System. Bass also filed a worker’s compen­sation claim and hired an attorney to represent her on that claim. She engaged her attorney on a contingency fee basis. As…

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No Retroactive Ban On Pension Spiking

Peter Nowicki was employed with the Moraga-Orinda Fire District in California from 1983 until 2009. Nowicki began as a paramedic-firefighter and ultimately became fire chief on July 10, 2006. The initial contract between Nowicki and the District, was for a four-year term, with an annual salary of $173,000. Under the terms of the contract, Nowicki was eligible for an annual salary adjustment as determined by the District’s board, following…

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Officer Not Entitled To Retirement Service Credits For Years Of Admin Leave

A New Jersey police officer identi­fied by the court only as “M.A.” began his employment as a municipal police officer on January 1, 1988. From January 2004 to March 2007, M.A., who had been diagnosed with depressive disorder and anxiety, was involved in a series of off-duty psychological incidents, some of which required he be restrained by police officers. In 2007, M.A. was involuntarily committed to a hospital for…

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PTSD Retirement And Carrying Weapons

A New Jersey detective identified in the Court’s opinion only as “A.A.” was employed by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office from 2003 to 2018. In May 2017, A.A. was involved in a shooting incident while serving a warrant. After two doctors diagnosed him with PTSD, A.A. filed an application for accidental disability retirement benefits. Based on its review of A.A.’s medical records, the County’s Medical Review Board concluded that…

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Chief Not Entitled To Pension Credit For Severance Pay

William Rogers was enrolled in the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) on March 1, 1995, the date he began working for the Borough of Weno­nah in New Jersey as a police officer. He advanced through the ranks to the level of Chief of Police. In 2018, the Borough entered into a shared services agreement with a neighbor­ing town. Rogers received written notice from the Borough’s mayor concerning the…

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Mandatory Retirement Not ‘Involuntary’

Firefighter Robert Pyzyna worked for the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District in Illinois from June 2005 until his retirement on October 31, 2017. Pyzyna’s retirement was required because he had reached the age of 65, the mandatory retirement age for active firefighters under the Illinois Fire Protection District Act. Pyzyna retired with a defined benefit pension plan and began receiving pension benefits in November 2017. That same month, Pyzyna…

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Videos Do Not Prove That Officer Had Recovered

It is not uncommon when an employer suspects that an employee may be falsely describing the extent of an on-the-job injury for the employer to obtain video of the employee engaging in physical activities. A recent case involving a Chicago police officer serves as a reminder that video evidence that the employee has engaged in even vigorous physical activity does not necessarily establish that the employee is malingering, and…

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Walking To Car After Testifying Not ‘Act Of Duty’ For Pension Purposes

Paul Griffin was a detective with the Village of New Lenox Police Department in Illinois. On September 7, 2016, Griffin worked from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. He was wearing his service revolver, handcuffs, and police radio. Griffin’s supervisor informed him that he was to testify before a grand jury pursuant to a subpoena at the county courthouse. Griffin drove his vehicle assigned by the police department with his…

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No Cause To Reopen Officer’s Retirement Case

Alonzo Herran was employed as a City of Newark police officer for 15 years. His tenure was marked by multiple violations of the Newark Police Department’s rules and regulations and the rules of the Civil Service Commission. In 2012, the City filed disciplinary charges against Herran for allegedly striking a civilian with the butt of his gun while off duty and lying to superiors about his actions. In July…

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Disability Retirement Precludes Civil Service Appeal Of Discharge

Martin Deiro began working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1997 and was injured on duty in May 2012. He continued to work though October 2013, after which he had the first of two surgeries for the injury. He could not return to work after his first surgery and remained on leave. On May 1, 2015, Deiro applied to the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA)…

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Firefighter Receives Jail Time For Pension Fraud

Shane Streater, a Camden, New Jersey firefighter, applied for an accidental disability retirement pension in 2009 following two on-the-job accidents in 2007 and 2008. Streater submitted reports from two doctors, John Gaffney and Ralph Cataldo, in support of the application, and the Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System had Streater evaluated by a third doctor, Lawrence Barr. In February 2010, the Board denied Streater’s application…

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Contracts And Memoranda Of Understanding

In February 2017, the City of Brook Park, Ohio, passed an ordinance calling for the City to pay hospitalization and/or medical insurance benefits to a group of retired employees in an amount that equated to $100 per month. Lodge 17 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the City’s police officers, filed a grievance challenging the ordinance. The FOP claimed that the ordinance violated the terms of a…

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Federal Labor Law Does Not Apply To Cities, Counties

Stephen Klika, a member of the Tuckahoe Police Organization, retired as a sergeant from the Village of Tuckahoe Police Department. At the time Klika retired, Article 13 of the collective bargaining agreement between the Organization and the Village provided that the Village “shall pay the full cost of the individual or family health insurance premium cost in the Empire Plan … upon retirement for those employees hired on or…

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DROP Reform Does Not Violate Constitution

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is a public pension fund that provides comprehensive retirement, death, and disability benefits for approximately 9,300 active and retired City of Dallas police officers, firefighters, and their qualified dependents. Under the retirement plan, individuals become members of the pension system once they commence training at the police or firefighter academy. The member and the City contribute to the member’s account during the…

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Officer Forfeits Pension After Conviction For Obstruction

Michael Lalley was a police sergeant in Newark, New Jersey. In early 2010, he was approached by agents of the FBI seeking his cooperation with an investigation of fellow members of the Department. Lalley declined to cooperate in the investigation. Unbeknownst to him, during the same time period the FBI was also investigating his sexual relations with M.H., who was then 17 years old, and other minors Lalley encountered…

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LEOSA Does Not Require An Agency To Issue Retirees Identification

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) allows “a qualified retired law enforcement officer who is carrying the identification required by the Act” to carry a concealed firearm, notwithstanding most state or local restrictions. Camille Burban was an officer with the Neptune Beach, Florida Police Department for more than ten years before she retired from service in 2013. In October 2016, she asked the Department to issue her the…

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Employer Required To Pay Retiree’s Medicare Supplement Premium

James Gallagher was employed as a police officer by the Town of Fairfield, Connecticut until October 9, 1986. On that date, the Fairfield Police and Fire Retirement Board approved his request for disability retirement benefits. Gallagher’s disability retirement at age 35 was the result of a serious injury he sustained during the course of his employment. On the date of his retirement, Gallagher was a member of the Fairfield…

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Officer Loses Pension On Conviction For Fraud

Joseph Deignan was a police officer with the Town of Watertown, Massachusetts. Under a Massachusetts statute, members of the state retirement system lose their pensions “after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office or position.” Under a series of cases, Massachusetts courts have ruled that for pension forfeiture to occur, there must be a direct link between the criminal offense and…

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DROP Benefits Can Be Prospectively Reduced

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (DROP) provides comprehensive retirement, death, and disability benefits for some 9,300 Dallas police officers, firefighters, pensioners, and qualified survivors. Officers and firefighters automatically become System members when they enter the training academy. While in active service, they and the City of Dallas contribute to their accounts. A member reaching retirement age can leave active service and begin drawing a monthly annuity based…

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California Supreme Court Ducks (For Now) Major Retirement Question But Allows End To ‘Air Time’

Employers and unions across California had been waiting anxiously for the California Supreme Court’s decision in a case involving Cal Fire Local 2881 of the IAFF. The Court was expected to address two issues – the “California Rule” and “air time.” The most important of the two issues was the continued viability of what has long been known as the California Rule. Under the California Rule, retirement benefits for…

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Not Unconstitutional To Deny Ex-Spouses Survivor Pensions

Gary and Karen Gausman were married in October 1991. After 22 years of marriage, Gary, an Erie, Pennsylvania police officer, filed for divorce from Karen. Gary and Karen subsequently entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), in which they agreed to equally share the marital portion of Gary’s pension by deferred distribution via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. The MSA further provided that “Karen shall be entitled…

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