Harrisburg – Legislation introduced by State Senator John DiSanto (R-15) to ensure that public employees who commit job-related felonies are stripped of their taxpayer-funded pension was unanimously approved today by the Senate and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Last session, this proposal passed both the full Senate and the House Judiciary Committee unanimously, but did not receive a final vote in the House.
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 public employees charged with a forfeiture crime to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid losing their pension.
Senate Bill 113 would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment.
The measure 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.
“This was the most egregious example — but not the only one – of unscrupulous public officials betraying citizens with their actions and being handsomely rewarded for it – with those same citizens being forced to pick up the tab,” said DiSanto. “It’s beyond adding insult to injury. It’s outright contempt for the people. This needs to end now.”
In addition, the legislation ensures that criminal convictions involving public officials are reported to state pension boards. Current law does not require the employee, courts, or state agencies to send copies of court records upon conviction. Under Senator DiSanto’s bill, courts would now be required to notify state pension systems of all pension forfeiture cases.
“It is well past time to require all egregious offenders to face a financial penalty for violating the public trust. We need to get this done for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania,” DiSanto said. “I hope the House takes this legislation up soon and moves it across the finish line.”
CONTACT: Chuck Erdman firstname.lastname@example.org (717) 787-6801