No Honor, No Pension in NJ

“Receipt of a pension was always conditioned on honorable service”

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia justifying the forfeiture of a $60,713 pension to a public employee who admitted taking a $300 bribe while in public service.

The attorney for the crook deemed it a “a million dollar fine. For $300. It’s very sad,”

Two points:

It is a sad story that Bennie Anderson took a bribe without running for office first and setting up a PAC for those bribes or getting himself appointed head of a Utilities Authority.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stephen Douglas on August 12, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    “The court noted that Anderson would “receive a total return of his pension contributions” under state law…”
    There is that.

    “It’s not the money, it’s the principle.”* Apparently, if he had merely stolen $300 from the cash drawer, he would not have lost his pension. The pension loss was because he violated the public trust by using his position to illegally advantage or disadvantage someone. Ostensibly, he could have lost his pension even if he did that for free. Even so, the punishment does not fit the crime.

    As one observer said: “…more cases (like this) could bring the pension fund out of the red.”

    *It’s the money.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Stephen Douglas on August 12, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Seems like, for instance, using your state position to impede traffic by unnecessarily closing lanes on a major bridge for political reasons would be valid reason to forfeit one’s pension? Or more than one. (He knew.)

    Note:
    The police officer charged with killing George Floyd is eligible for his full taxpayer funded pension. In fact, a majority of states provide retirement benefits to officers and public servants convicted of serious crimes.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog!🐶🐶🐶🐾🐾🐾 on August 13, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    The attorney for the crook deemed it a “a million dollar fine. For $300. It’s very sad,”

    Two points:

    It is a sad story that Bennie Anderson took a bribe without running for office first and setting up a PAC for those bribes or getting himself appointed head of a Utilities Authority.

    Without seeing the details of the court case, it is likely that there were other bribes but prosecutors got Anderson to admit to this one for convenience. We will never know how many bribes he took as prosecutorial negotiations are hidden, unlike NJELC records.
    Is it honorable to give yourself and your friends thousands of dollars in unauthorized stipends if you paid it back after you got caught?

    There is a very solid argument that this violates constitutionally protected rights, substantive due process rights under the 14th Amendment. Without knowing how old or how many years the guy would have received the $60K/year pension, I will use a 10 year pension period and estimate the fully received pension @$600K aggregate. $300 is 1/20th of 1%. #1, there HAS to be some “reasonableness” to punitive action, criminal or civil. You simply cannot fine someone $600K over a $300 “crime”, which is no more than a misdemeanor, a petty offense by its own nature. What would be next, losing the $600K over a jaywalking offense? Or an expired parking meter offense? As to the “NJELC” reference, if accurate, then you have a MAJOR defense>>> “discriminatory prosecution”. In CA this would raise a clear defense of “discriminatory prosecution”, which again would be a violation of substantive due process rights under the 14th Amendment. Treating identical criminal conduct, criminal conduct that is far less severe, in wildly disparate applications. I would be willing to bet NJ has identical statutory or case law on “discriminatory prosecution”. The guys lawyer should have raised all of these issues BEFORE he did any type of plea bargain 🙄🤦‍♂️🙄 I mean WTF was the lawyer thinking? I would have made ANY plea bargain conditioned upon full pension benefits. I would be shocked if this does not go to an appellate Court and the ruling is not over turned….But hey, I am just a young Pup, what do I know….🐕🐕🐕

    Reply

  4. Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog!🐶🐶🐶🐾🐾🐾 on August 13, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    I guess I should have read the article first. Pension was worth $1 million in aggregate value. He should have never entered into any plea deal without some condition to it as to his pension. He could have tried to plead where the conviction was held in “abeyance” during the home confinement and probationary period, and then be dismissed upon successful completion of the sentence, then NJ could not have taken any action…. I would try to undo the plea bargain, not likely but if there is nothing to lose why not. You have to enter into any plea bargain “Knowingly and Intelligently”, and the
    “intelligently” portion was lacking in spades…The dissenting judge nailed it in his dissent:

    Justice Barry T. Albin, who dissented with the court’s ruling, said the complete forfeiture of Anderson’s pension for an isolated crime for which he received a probationary sentence and modest fine was excessive.

    “The amount of the forfeiture must bear some relationship to the gravity of the offense that it is designed to punish,” he wrote. “In my view, the majority has denied Anderson the protections afforded by the federal Constitution by failing to call a fine by its true name and by characterizing state law in a way that seemingly evades federal review.”

    Reply

  5. Posted by Joel Frank on September 29, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    In some states a guaranteed Defined Benefit pension is potentially forfeitable. This is contrary to Defined Contribution plans i.e. 457(b), 403(b) and 401(k) which can never be forfeited regardless of the crime committed while in the public service.

    Reply

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