Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reinstate Sandusky's pension, hearing officer recommends


A state hearing officer says Jerry Sandusky deserves a pension.

In an opinion released Monday, the examiner recommended the state retirement system reinstate the $4,900-a-month pension Sandusky collected before being convicted on child sex abuse charges in 2012.

"Because (Sandusky) was not a school employee at the time that he committed the crimes which are the subject of this action, his pension is not subject to forfeiture under Pennsylvania law," reads the opinion from examiner Michael Bangs.

The recommendation is not a final determination, but it represents the findings of Bangs, who was charged with evaluating the case after Sandusky appealed the revocation of his pension. A final decision by the retirement system board is not expected until fall, an agency spokeswoman said.

Though released on the same day, Bang's opinion was unrelated to the long-awaited report into how state prosecutors handled the three-year Sandusky investigation.

Sandusky stopped working as a Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach in 1999, but the agency concluded he was "an actual or de facto employee" of the school through 2008, a span during which he sexually abused boys.

An attorney representing the agency also contended that Sandusky served as an "ambassador" for Penn State in his post-coaching years, and that he received not only the same perks as employees, such as tickets to Penn State games, access to the school gyms and an on-campus office, but also payments from the school during that time.

Sandusky and his attorney, Charles Benjamin, dispute that, and have said Sandusky received payment from the school just a handful of times after retirement, for travel costs and speaking fees. After 1999, Sandusky has said, he received no tax forms from the school.

Benjamin also argued in filings that the state Employee Retirement System used an unprecedented interpretation of the law to deny Sandusky his pension, and that Sandusky was the first person ever to be labeled a "de facto" employee in such a case.

Benjamin also contends that Sandusky's retirement benefits were vested before 2004, when the state amended a law to include some sexual-assault crimes among those that could lead to pension revocation.

Sandusky, 70, had been fighting since late 2012 to have his pension restored. In January he testified in his pension hearing in Harrisburg, speaking to a camera and appearing through a video link with the southwestern Pennsylvania prison where he is serving a 30-to-60 year sentence.




Inquirer Staff Writer
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