Over the weekend, the Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported the following:
• Jerry Sandusky received a lump sum pension payment of $148,271 when he retired from Penn State in 1999. Since then, he has received—and continues to receive—monthly pension payments totaling $58,898 per year.
• Gary Schultz, the school's former vice president for business and finance who has been charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, got $421,847 in one lump sum when he retired two years ago. Schultz, charged along with athletic director Tim Curley, returned to his post on an interim basis in September and then resigned after being indicted Nov. 5. Schultz is eligible for an annual pension totaling nearly $331,000 for the rest of his life.
But what about the criminal charges against both men? I emailed a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania's State Employee Retirement System (SERS), who replied to say "a SERS member forfeits his or her pension if convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to an Act 140 crime." In the meantime, in other words, the pension payments keep coming. What constitues an Act 140 crime is outlined here:
Act 140 is triggered if a SERS member is convicted of or pleads guilty or no defense to any listed crime committed through the member's public office or position or when public employment puts the member in a position to commit the crime.
Pennsylvania crimes covered by Act 140 are listed on this page and are found in 43 P.S. § 1312. All federal crimes substantially the same as these state crimes also are covered by Act 140. Act 140 applies to all members of SERS, even those who became members before July 8, 1978 if they have been reelected, re-appointed, promoted or changed job classifications since then.
Enforcement of Act 140 is mandatory. Pennsylvania courts have held that neither SERS nor an employing agency has any discretion in its application. Nor does it matter if the crime is relatively minor compared to the value of pension benefits. If Act 140 is applicable, it must be applied.
The SERS spokeswoman also said any state employee fired for cause—as Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier were—is still eligible for pension benefits.