State Trial Against SD Pension Officials Gets Green Light

September 10, 2007 ( - A California appeals court has given the go ahead for a trial against six former San Diego pension officials that alleges they granted a boost in retirement benefits for all city workers in 2002 in exchange for decreased contributions into the city's system.

According to a news report by, a three-member panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal found there is sufficient evidence against the former officials for a trial to proceed.

Former San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System trustees Cathy Lexin, Ronald Saathoff, John Torres, Mary Vattimo, Terri Webster and Sharon Wilkinson were charged by the District Attorney’s Office in May 2005. Each faces one felony count of violating the state’s conflict-of-interest law, which bars public officials from negotiating a contract in which they have a financial interest.

The six contend they had no financial interest in granting the pension increases.

The state trial was delayed indefinitely after the California Supreme Court ordered a hearing on why the case should not be thrown out.Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Barton ruled last month that the statute of limitations had expired.

The state’s case against the former pension officials focuses on a California law that prohibits public employees from participating in official actions that serve to benefit their personal financial interests. In the state case, prosecutors contend the vote was linked to a package of enhanced retirement benefits given to all city workers, including the board members, who then illegally benefited from their votes (See  San Diego DA Kicks Off Pension Probe ).

Lexin, Saathoff and Webster and two other officials also face federal charges. U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez put the trial on hold to wait and see what happens in the state prosecution (See Federal San Diego Pension Trial on Hold ).

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