MONTPELIER — Top Vermont officials called Wednesday for legislation that would allow the state’s public retirement funds to recoup money from employees convicted of fraud or embezzlement against a public agency.
The move follows charges filed in July against former state police Sgt. James Deeghan, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of making false claims by allegedly padding his overtime reports. Authorities said Deeghan justified the extra time in part by writing and filing 973 traffic tickets without actually giving them to motorists.
“Public employees who steal from the public treasury should not be allowed to benefit in retirement from their ill-gotten gains,” said Attorney General William Sorrell. “Pension forfeiture legislation will provide a process that will allow a court to ensure this does not happen.”
Sorrell joined Gov. Peter Shumlin, lawmakers and other officials in announcing they were drafting a bill to allow a judge to require partial or full forfeiture of a retirement pension for state, municipal or public school employees who defraud their employers. Lawmakers vowed to take up the matter early in their 2013 session, which begins next week.
The officials acknowledged that the law would not work retroactively and would not affect Deeghan if he is convicted, but said it could provide protection for the public in similar cases in the future.
Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said audits of time reports by troopers at the Williston barracks, where Deeghan worked, and for the 327-trooper state police force at large found no evidence of wrongdoing by anyone else.
Shumlin said that because a judge would make the final determination of restitution, the proposal “strikes a good balance of protecting taxpayer money while not being unduly punitive against employees and their innocent dependents.”
The bill calls on the judge to weigh family circumstances, the severity of the crime, how much money was lost and how much public trust had been placed in the individual as factors in determining what amount of an employee’s pension can be seized.MORE IN Vermont NewsMONTPELIER — The son and daughter of a Vermont World War I veteran received a Purple Heart at the... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Researchers find new species of hominid, the Denisovans, and follow genetic evidence that place them across a wide swath of the globe before extinction 40,000 years ago.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Proctor estate sale hits serious legal speed bump, Rutland Town wraps up solar project regulations, Patty Minichiello interviews visiting sculptor in West Rutland and Castleton Crackers honored with national award.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Tamerlane, in 1401 on this day, lays waste to Baghdad; 'Rock Around The Clock' hits No. 1 on Billboard chart in 1955, stays there for eight weeks.
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Rutland Herald content editor Rich Alcott shares local weather information and easily digestible news tidbits: Texas towns, shaken by earthquakes linked to fracking for gas and oil, are fed up and scared, want to ban the practice,
- TODAY'S WEATHER MINUTE: Rutland Herald content editor Rich Alcott shares local weather information and easily digestible news tidbits: Fracking linked to 100-fold increase in Oklahoma earthquakes.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Roswell: Weather balloon, invasion from outer space or primitive spy op? You decide. Francis Gary Powers faces the music on this day and it's Russian pop hits, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross born this day and the Mahatma eschews violence.