Posted on October 10, 2011

Three of Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden’s undersheriffs are guilty of double-dipping – not a felony or misdemeanor, just a costly reality in the world of New Jersey politics.

The most controversial of the three is Undersheriff Michael W. Donovan Jr.  Donovan’s double-dipping – revealed by a New Jersey Watchdog investigative report last year

As Monmouth County sheriff in 2008, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno hired Donovan as chief in charge of law enforcement. There was an obstacle:  Donovan had retired as a county investigator three years earlier.  Since a sheriff’s chief officer is a position subject to the rules of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS), Donovan faced the prospect of giving up pension checks by going back to work.

To help Donovan double-dip, Guadagno informed payroll officials Donovan was her chief warrant officer – a similar sounding but completely different position not subject to PFRS rules.  In contrast, Guadagno’s own memo and organizational chart identified Donovan as her chief in charge of law enforcement.

With Guadagno’s help, Donovan pocketed $85,000 a year in retirement pay along with his new salary of $87,000.  He scammed $245,000 from PFRS – $227,000 in pension pay, plus $18,000 he should have contributed to the pension fund after being re-hired. 

Faced with controversy, Sheriff Shaun Golden – Guadagno’s successor – found a way to protect his office and Donovan.  In February, Golden gave Donovan a raise and promoted him to undersheriff, a position not subject to PFRS rules.  So Donovan continues his double-dipping ways, more lucrative than ever.

Theodore Freeman retired from Monmouth County in January 1996 and was rehired as undersheriff in June 2002.  Freeman, 65, receives $151,000 a year – his $92,000 salary plus $59,000 in pension.

If Sheriff Golden objects to double-dipping, he has a funny way of showing it.  He hired double-dipper #3 – Undersheriff Robert J. Dawson – earlier this year.

Dawson, 47, retired from the Spring Lake police on Feb. 1.   Two weeks later, he was sworn into office as a Monmouth County undersheriff.  His double-take totals $184,000 a year - his $88,000 salary plus a $96,000 pension.

New Jersey Watchdog’s investigation found 43 top county cops – 16 sheriffs and 27 undersheriffs from 20 counties – who are collecting $3.14 million a year in pensions, plus their county salaries.  For full details, click here and here.

- Mark Lagerkvist

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