THREE SOUTH JERSEY SHERIFFS CAMPAIGN FOR MORE DOUBLE-DIPS Report by Mark Lagerkvist
CAMDEN – The sheriffs of three South Jersey counties —Camden, Gloucester and Salem — hope voters won’t arrest their double-dipping bonanzas in next month’s election.
Collectively, the three incumbents have raked in $1.3 million from New Jersey retirement funds while drawing their six-figure salaries.
In Camden, Sheriff Charles Billingham collects $219,141 a year — $144,753 in salary plus $74,388 in pension as a Washington Township police retiree. Since he became sheriff in 2007, Billingham has pocketed roughly $425,000 in pension funds.
Gloucester Sheriff Carmel Morina gets $191,907 a year — $128,547 in salary and a $63,360 pension.
At age 49, Morina retired as Greenwich Township police chief in December 2006 — a month before he took office as sheriff. Since then, he has cashed $362,000 in retirement checks plus his six-figure salary.
Sheriff Chuck Miller, of Salem, receives $183,222 a year — his $107,250 salary and a $75,972 pension. While on the county’s payroll, Miller has received $514,000 in pension.
At age 45, Miller retired as Salem’s chief county investigator on Dec. 31, 2004. The next day, he was hired by the county as its domestic preparedness coordinator. He left that job in April 2006 to run for sheriff. Miller won the election and took office in 2007.
Miller, a Republican, is running unopposed in this election. The opponents of Democrats Billingham and Morina do not receive New Jersey public pensions.
All three South Jersey sheriffs hired undersheriffs who also double-dip.
Billingham selected William Fontanez as a Camden County undersheriff. Fontanez gets $160,708 a year — $109,264 in salary and $51,444 in pension.
Gloucester’s Morina picked two double-dippers as his undersheriffs. Joseph O’Leary collects $153,086 — $96,410 in salary and a $56,676 pension — while Glenn Hammel receives $151,163 — $96,419 in salary and $54,744 in pension.
In Salem, Miller’s undersheriff is Warren Mabey. A retired state trooper, Mabey gets $170,320 a year — $82,720 in salary and $87,600 in pension.
A New Jersey Watchdog investigation found that 17 county sheriffs and 34 undersheriffs collectively receive $9.1 million a year — $3.7 million in retirement pay plus $5.4 million in salaries — using loopholes ignored by Gov. Chris Christie’s pension reforms.
Overall, the “Double-Dippers Club” includes sheriffs and undersheriffs from 20 ofNew Jersey’s 21 counties. On average, each collects roughly $179,000 a year — $102,000 in salary and $72,000 from law enforcement pensions.