Corrupt Official Pension Forfeiture Bill Enacted in NJ

March 23, 2007 ( - New Jersey governor Jon Corzine signed into law last week a bill imposing mandatory imprisonment and forfeiture of pensions and retirement benefits for public officials or employees convicted of certain crimes.

In a statement, the legislature said the  bill enables the board of trustees of a state or local pension fund to order forfeiture of “earned service credit” in cases of misconduct for which no court ordered forfeiture, as well as to implement any pension forfeiture ordered by a court. The bill lists 19 offenses for which mandatory forfeiture is required, including theft by extortion, bribery, money laundering, and perjury.

The legislation, which takes effect proactively 30 days after it was enacted, provides that the forfeiture will be ordered by the court immediately upon a finding of guilt against an individual. However, the court can order the forfeiture be delayed pending a merit hearing if good cause is shown.

Similar legislation has been proposed for other states, including Connecticut (See Connecticut AG Targets Pensions of Corrupt Officials), as well as for the federal government (See Kerry, Salazar “Duke” It Out with Corruption-Tinged Pensions ).