|January 14, 2015 12:02 PM
|Representative Scott A. Petri
|All House members
|Legislation to Amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act - Infamous Crime
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act (Act 140 of 1978). Currently, Act 140 requires a public employee’s or public official’s pension to be forfeited only when he or she is convicted or pleads guilty or no contest to certain crimes related to his or her public office or public employment (“forfeiture crimes”). My legislation would require pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted or pleads guilty or no defense to any infamous crime, as that term is defined by the Pennsylvania Constitution, in addition to those crimes already listed in Act 140.
As currently written, a state employee or state official who is charged with a forfeiture crime has the ability to offer to plead guilty to a different non-forfeiture crime in order to avoid pension forfeiture. For example, former Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. was recently charged with violating Pennsylvania’s conflict of interest law, a non-forfeiture crime. He was also charged with theft of services, a forfeiture crime. Currently, if former Judge Berry were able to reach a plea deal by which he plead guilty to the conflict of interest charge and had the theft of services charge dismissed, he would be able to continue to collect his state pension, which is approximately $6,000 gross monthly. Under my proposed changes, former Judge Berry would not be able to avoid forfeiture of his pension by pleading guilty to the conflict of interest charge because conflict of interest would meet the constitutional definition of infamous crime.
I believe that any state employee or state official who violates the public trust by committing an enumerated Act 140 crime or any crime graded as a felony should forfeit his or her pension.
Introduced as HB18