DiSanto Bill Stripping Public Pensions for Felonies Becomes Law

Harrisburg – Legislation introduced by State Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) to ensure that elected officials and public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension was signed in to law today by Gov. Wolf.

“With the enactment of SB 113 as Act 1 of 2019, we are putting elected officials and public employees on notice that they will no longer be able to abuse their power and walk away with a lifetime taxpayer-funded pension,” said DiSanto.

Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act requires a public employee to forfeit his or her pension only for certain crimes listed in the act. In practice, this law allows elected officials and public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pension.

Act 1 of 2019 requires pension forfeiture if a public employee or elected official is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment.

The law also closes the “Mellow Loophole,” through which former State Senator Bob Mellow of Lackawanna County had his $245,000 a year pension restored despite pleading guilty and being sent to prison on federal conspiracy charges.

In addition, the new law ensures that such criminal convictions are reported to state pension boards. Prior to Act 1, the law did not require the employee, courts, or state agencies to send copies of court records upon conviction. Instead, pension boards learn of pension forfeiture cases through agency websites and newspaper articles. Under Act 1, courts will now be required to notify state pension systems of all pension forfeiture cases.

“This legislation ensures felons face a financial penalty for violating the public trust and helps restore people’s faith in our government institutions,” DiSanto said. “I thank the governor and my colleagues in the general assembly for their support of this commonsense legislation and look forward to advancing further government reforms on behalf of the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

CONTACT: Chuck Erdman cerdman@pasen.gov (717) 787-6801