ATTORNEY GENERAL’S 23 DOUBLE-DIPPING AGENTS ‘ARREST’ $14 MILLION FROM STATE PENSION FUNDS — by Mark Lagerkvist

Posted on December 12, 2011

Sgt. State Investigator Robert W. Kent hit a million dollar jackpot. Kent didn’t win a lottery; he is a double-dipper playing the New Jersey State Pension game.

For the past 22 years, Kent has collected two sets of checks from the state. At age 74, he receives a $100,000 salary plus $59,000 in retirement pay a year though he “retired” for less than a week.

Kent is one of 23 current investigators and supervisors who pocketed nearly $14 million in pension pay in addition to their salaries from the Attorney General, a New Jersey Watchdog investigation found.

On average, each officer has collared nearly $600,000 in retirement pay while in the employ of the Attorney General. Since its initial investigative report, New Jersey Watchdog obtained records of their cumulative pension totals. (See below chart for names and amounts.)

The 23 employees, now under Paula T. Dow, continue to get state pension checks at a rate of $1.5 million a year. Dow’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The officers retired from the State Police or the Division of Criminal Justice, then returned to work for Division of Criminal Justice or Office of Attorney General. Sixteen of them were back on the Attorney General’s payroll within a week of their retirement dates.

Kent, for example, retired at age 52 as a State Police captain on Nov. 1, 1989. Five days later, he had a new job as a state investigator at DCJ. Kent, now approaching his 75th birthday, has worked there ever since.

Meanwhile, Kent has received $1.1 million in pension pay without missing a single paycheck from the Attorney General.

The next generation of double-dippers includes 49-year-old State Investigator Joseph C. Saiia II. He “retired” from the State Police on May 1. After a six-day break, he started his new job at DCJ.

Saiia gets a pension of $85,000 a year on top of his $78,890 annual salary.  If he stays on the job until 74 – Kent’s age – he could reap $2.12 million in retirement pay without actually retiring.

Dow’s double-dippers take advantage of a pension law that exclusively allows New Jersey police and fire officials to retire after 25 years of service, regardless of age, with a pension equal to 65 percent of salary. It’s called “special retirement,” and it’s only for members of the Police & Firemen’s Retirement System and State Police Retirement System. Special retirements are not available to workers under other state pension plans.

The fact that most of the double-dippers’ “retirements” lasted less than one week appears to flout pension rules. A retirement is only “bona fide” if “there is a good faith action to retire” and if “the employer/employee relationship is completely severed,” including “a cessation of employment of at least 30 days,” according to the SPRS and PFRS handbooks.

If a retirement is not “bona fide,” the employee is “required to reimburse the retirement system for the amount of any retirement benefits,” and “there is no limitation on the amount of reimbursement.”

Despite the rules, the Attorney General’s double-dippers are unlikely to give up their dual checks or repay millions to state pension funds. That’s because the Attorney General and pension boards advised by the Attorney General play key roles in interpreting and enforcing pension laws in New Jersey.

Double-dipping abuses were all but ignored in Gov. Chris Christie’s pension overhaul earlier this year, which the governor called his ”biggest governmental victory.” The new laws do little to stop public employees from simultaneously collecting salaries plus retirement pay.

Meanwhile, New Jersey faces a staggering deficit in its pension funds. State Treasury officials estimate the shortfall at $36 billion. In contrast, other actuaries contend New Jersey’s pension funds may be underfunded by more than $144 billion.

Systemic double-dipping by public officials is the focus of a series of ongoing New Jersey Watchdog investigations.

Last month, New Jersey Watchdog exposed triple-dipping by Christie’s budget adviser and cabinet secretary. During the past nine years, Louis C. Goetting IV has raked in $1.1 million from taxpayers through two severance payouts and an early retirement deal. He now collects $219,000 a year from the state – a $130,000 salary plus $89,000 in pension payments.

In September, New Jersey Watchdog revealed that 44 top county cops – 16 sheriffs and 28 undersheriffs from 20 counties – collect $3.25 million a year in pensions in addition to their county salaries.

Last year, New Jersey Watchdog found evidence implicating Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Christie’s second-in-command, in an alleged scam that cost a state pension fund a quarter-million dollars. As Monmouth County sheriff, Guadagno made false statements that enabled a top aide to double-dip. The case is currently under investigation by the Attorney General.

Click here for the original New Jersey Watchdog report that broke the story on the Attorney General’s double-dippers.

Next, who will investigate the Attorney General’s investigators?

# # #

WHO GOT IT & HOW MUCH DID THEY GET? NEW JERSEY WATCHDOG’S LIST OF THE STATE RETIREMENT PAY RECEIVED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S 23 DOUBLE-DIPPING INVESTIGATORS 

Last First  Pension Total Retired Rehired Current Title
Kent Robert  $    1,104,602 11/1/1989 11/6/1989 Sgt Investigator
Rozwadowski Ronald  $       836,652 8/1/1996 8/2/1996 Sgt Investigator
Davis William  $       801,802 9/30/1999 10/1/1999 Det 1 Investigator
Kendig Patrick  $       776,359 3/31/1998 10/13/1998 Sgt Investigator
Quirk Edward  $       725,000 9/30/2000 10/1/2000 Lt Investigator
Weidman Frederick  $       713,352 2/28/2001 3/1/2001 Sgt Investigator
Hess Edgar  $       712,069 7/31/2001 8/1/2001 Lt Investigator
Macciocca Donald  $       709,572 8/31/2001 9/1/2001 Det 1 Investigator
Carlin Richard  $       692,267 1/1/1995 1/5/1998 Sgt Investigator
Sheeran John  $       683,856 12/31/1998 1/1/1999 Det 1 Investigator
Drummond Alan  $       651,908 1/31/2001 2/1/2001 Sgt Investigator
Bacsik Kenneth  $       646,901 4/30/1994 9/9/1996 Investigator 1
Zichello Nicholas  $       581,842 1/31/2005 2/1/2005 Super Investigator
Loufik Richard  $       576,282 2/29/2004 3/1/2004 Det 1 Investigator
Saunders William  $       560,278 9/30/1999 12/20/1999 Spec Investigator
Salzmann David  $       545,916 12/31/2002 12/15/2003 Sgt Investigator
Mai Mark  $       521,394 5/31/2001 12/15/2003 Sgt Investigator
Morris Paul  $       413,011 8/31/2006 9/1/2006 Chf of Detectives
Royle Michael  $       392,903 7/31/2005 8/1/2005 Investigator 1
Smith John  $       370,682 6/30/2004 7/1/2004 Spec Investigator
Crescenz Charles  $       364,359 6/1/1990 11/10/1997 Investigator 1
Lane Richard  $       335,867 11/30/2007 12/1/2007 Det 1 Investigator
Saiia Joseph  $        49,615 5/1/2011 5/7/2011 Det 1 Investigator
TOTAL  $  13,766,489
AVERAGE  $       598,543

 

New Jersey Watchdog’s research focused on current employees of the New Jersey Office of Attorney General and Division of Criminal Justice who draw state pensions while collecting salaries exceeding $75,000 a year. Data are from pension, payroll and personnel records obtained from the New Jersey Department of Treasury and New Jersey Civil Service Commission under the state Open Public Records Act.

For Kent, Rozwadowski, Davis, Quirk, Weidman, Hess, Macciocca, Sheeran, Drummond, Zichello, Loufik, Morris, Royle, Smith, Lane and Saiia, the amounts are taken directly from state pension documents.

The other seven employees had significant periods of time between date of retirement and their return to work for the Attorney General. Based on available state data, New Jersey Watchdog’s estimates excluded any pension payments received while not in the Attorney General’s employ.

Overall, the 23 employees have collected $14,586,417 in pension payments. Pension amounts and employment status are current as of December 2011.

Posted under New Jersey, New Jersey Watchdog.

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