Former Garden State Exec Gets Pension Slashed

July 22, 2005 ( - Former Essex County (New Jersey) Executive James Treffinger will receive a much smaller pension package after the Garden State's pension board voted to slash his benefits because of crimes he committed while in office.

The board of the State Employees Retirement System voted 9-0 to deny Treffinger any credit for the eight years he served as county executive – a move that will cut his public employee pension from about $35,000 a year to less than $6,000, the Associated Press reported.

During a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes, Treffinger’s lawyer, Michael Critchley, pleaded for compassion, saying his client’s crimes were “aberrations” and it was hard for Treffinger to find work. The pension panel based its decision on regulations that stipulate retirement credit can only be granted for years in which public service is deemed “honorable.”

Treffinger, 55, Essex County executive from 1995 to 2002, left office when his second term expired, two months after he was indicted on extortion, fraud and obstruction of justice charges. He pleaded guilty in 2003 to obstruction of justice and mail fraud and spent 13 months in federal prison.