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Pennsylvania Eyes Pension Cutoff for Felons Post-Sandusky

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Pennsylvania should bolster pension-forfeiture rules for public employees, according to Frank Fina, the chief deputy state attorney general who helped convict Jerry Sandusky on child sex-abuse charges.

Public employees only lose taxpayer-funded pensions if they’re convicted of a crime in which they used their office to help commit it under current law. In addition, the victims of school employees must be students and not all of the 68-year-old Sandusky’s victims were, Fina told a state legislative hearing today.

“Given the grave betrayal of the public trust that such criminal conduct represents, it is critically important that this oversight be corrected,” Fina said. Lawmakers convened the meeting to discuss pension-related bills.

Sandusky, a former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach, was convicted in June on 45 criminal counts tied to the abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period, including attacks in the school’s athletic facilities. He played and coached for more than 30 years before retiring in 1999 with a pension of almost $59,000 a year, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

House Bill 2469 was introduced in June and wouldn’t be retroactive if passed, according to its current language. Any public employee or public official convicted of a felony would automatically lose his or her pension under the legislation.

“As currently written, Pennsylvania’s Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act fails to revoke the pensions of those who commit the most heinous crimes,” Representative Fred Keller, a Middleburg Republican who introduced the bill, said in a June 14 statement.

His measure “will guarantee that any public employee or official who violates the public trust will automatically forfeit his or her taxpayer-funded pension,” Keller said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Romy Varghese in Philadelphia at rvarghese8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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