‘POWER PLAY’ BACKFIRES FOR SUSSEX COUNTY UNDERSHERIFF
Five double-dipping New Jersey county sheriffs were re-elected in Tuesday’s election, but it was a losing day for an undersheriff who tried a power play at taxpayers’ expense.
Sussex County Undersheriff George DeOld was forced to resign after he was caught with one of the county’s emergency generators at his home for personal use in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s an unfortunate incident,” Sheriff Michael Strada told the New Jersey Herald.
DeOld is no stranger to gaming government. His annual take was $162,969 a year – a $96,525 county salary from the county plus a $66,444 pension as a Paterson City police retiree, as previously reported by New Jersey Watchdog.
Neither is Sheriff Strada, who draws a $107,250 salary plus a $28,392 pension as a Mt. Olive police retiree. For his undersheriffs, Strada hired three double-dippers, including DeOld.
(Click here for New Jersey Watchdog’s investigation and list of 51 double-dipping sheriffs and undersheriffs.)
Double-dipping sheriffs fared much better Tuesday in five other New Jersey counties – Essex, Ocean, Camden, Gloucester and Salem.
In Essex County, Democrat Armando Fontoura won an eighth term as sheriff by defeating Republican challenger Orlando Mendez.
Fontoura will continue to rake in $200,305 a year – a $137,917 salary in addition to a $62,388 pension as a retired Essex undersheriff. During his 22 years as a double-dipper, Fontoura has received $1.14 million in retirement checks. (Click here for New Jersey Watchdog’s report on Fontoura.)
Courtesy of Ocean County voters, Republican Sheriff William Polhemus will also become a pension millionaire. Polhemus, 84, was re-elected to a 10th term over Republican Democrat George “Bob” Armstrong and independent Dennis McMenamin.
Since 1986, Polhemus has pocketed $929,793 in pension pay in addition to his county paychecks. He currently receives $165,941 a year — $122,669 in salary plus a $43,272 pension as a retired Seaside Heights police chief. (Click here for New Jersey Watchdog’s report on Polhemus.)
The story was similar in three South Jersey races for sheriff.
In Camden County, Sheriff Charles Billingham beat GOP challenger Christine Leone-Zwillinger.
Billingham will continue to collect $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 from pension in addition to his county pay.
In neighboring Gloucester County, Sheriff Carmel Morina bested Republican Philip Dieser III.
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. Since then, he has cashed $362,000 in retirement checks plus his six-figure salary.
For Salem County voters, there was no choice. Republican Sheriff Chuck Miller ran unopposed.
Miller receives $183,222 a year – his $107,250 salary and a $75,972 pension. While on the county’s payroll, Miller has drawn more than a half-million dollars in pension pay as a county retiree. (Click here for New Jersey Watchdog’s report on the South Jersey sheriffs.)
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.