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NEW JERSEY PROSECUTORS EMPLOY 125 DOUBLE-DIPPING ‘RETIREES’ by Mark Lagerkvist

By   /   January 2, 2012  /   No Comments

At age 48, Michael J. Trahey retired as the Bergen County prosecutor’s chief deputy in 2004. The next day, he was back on the prosecutor’s payroll with a different job title.

Thanks to his one-day “retirement,” Trahey pockets $207,000 a year. He receives $92,000 in pension pay plus $115,000 in salary.

Trahey is one of 125 retired law enforcement officers employed by county and state prosecutors, a New Jersey Watchdog investigation revealed. Collectively, they rake in $18.5 million a year — $8.6 million per year in retirement pay plus $9.9 million in salaries.  (See below chart for names and exact amounts.)

According to New Jersey Watchdog’s research, the prosecutors’ double-dippers include:

  • 56 retired municipal and county officers who work for county prosecutors;
  • 37 retired state police officers employed by county prosecutors;
  • Nine retired municipal and county officers on the payroll of the state Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice; and
  • 23 retired state officers who work as investigators and supervisors for DCJ and the Office of Attorney General, as first reported Dec. 6 by New Jersey Watchdog.

While their individual circumstances vary, they have one thing in common — two checks. On average, each receives nearly $148,000 per year — $79,000 in salary plus $69,000 in pension pay.

The average age of retirement is 49. Unlike other public employees in New Jersey, they qualify for “special” retirement after 25 years of service regardless of age, according to Police & Firemen’s Retirement System and State Police Retirement System rules.

Many retired officers work for prosecutors as investigators, detectives or supervisors. But the most common job title is “prosecutor’s agent,” a supposedly low-ranking, unclassified position with duties that vary from county to county. The job, exempt from pension rules, is often regarded as a patronage plum to put a friend or ally on the county prosecutor’s payroll.

“Prosecutor’s agents are full-time employees, who are generally retired police officers or recent college graduates…with the responsibility of assisting the prosecutor’s detectives and assistant prosecutors with daily activities” states the Ocean County prosecutor’s website. However, one of the Ocean County prosecutor’s agents is an 83-year-old retired judge drawing a $40,000 salary.

Fifty-five retired officers, including Trahey, are employed as prosecutor’s agents. Trahey assumed that title on Jan. 2, 2004, one day after he retired as the Bergen County prosecutor’s deputy chief.

“Did I retire and start up right afterwards? I absolutely did,” said Trahey. While he ranks as one of eight prosecutor’s agents on Bergen’s payroll, Trahey said he really functions as the prosecutor’s “chief executive,” supervising information technology and special projects.

According to Trahey, state pension officials gave him a “written approval” to start the new job immediately after retirement. He would not agree to provide a copy to New Jersey Watchdog.

As a one-day retiree, Trahey has collected more than $700,000 in pension pay on top of his salary. He is far from alone.

Sixty-three of the 125 officers — just over half — “retired” for less than a month before going back to work. Forty-one of those were off work for one day or less. In 13 instances, the employees started their new jobs before they officially retired.

The quickie retirements appear to flout state pension rules. A retirement is only “bona fide” if “there is a good faith action to retire” and if “the employer/employee relationship is completely severed,” including “a cessation of employment of at least 30 days,” according to the SPRS and PFRS handbooks.

If a retirement is not “bona fide,” the employee is “required to reimburse the retirement system for the amount of any retirement benefits,” and “there is no limitation on the amount of reimbursement” under pension rules.

Despite these rules, the double-dippers are unlikely to give up their dual checks or repay millions to state pension funds. That’s because the attorney general and pension boards advised by the attorney general play key roles in interpreting and enforcing pension laws in New Jersey.

Systemic double-dipping by public officials is the focus of a series of ongoing New Jersey Watchdog investigations.

In November, New Jersey Watchdog exposed triple-dipping by Gov. Chris Christie’s budget adviser and cabinet secretary. During the past nine years, Louis C. Goetting IV has raked in $1.1 million from taxpayers through two severance payouts and an early retirement deal. He now collects $219,000 a year from the state — a $130,000 salary plus $89,000 in pension payments.

In September, New Jersey Watchdog revealed that 16 sheriffs and 28 undersheriffs from 20 counties collect $3.25 million per year in pensions in addition to their county salaries.

Last year, New Jersey Watchdog found evidence implicating Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Christie’s second-in-command, in an alleged scam that cost a state pension fund nearly a quarter-million dollars. As Monmouth County sheriff, Guadagno made false statements that enabled a top aide to double-dip. The Attorney General’s Office is investigating the case.

But who will investigate the Attorney General’s own “retired” investigators?

# # #

NEW JERSEY WATCHDOG’S LIST OF 125 DOUBLE-DIPPERS EMPLOYED BY PROSECUTORS

Employer Name  Total/Yr  Salary/Yr  Pension/Yr  Retired
Ocean Kuyl, Charles A  $     209,257  $   139,585  $     69,672 State Police
Bergen Trahey, Michael J  $     207,451  $   114,967  $     92,484 Bergen County
Bergen Carroll, Matthew J  $     205,316  $   124,472  $     80,844 State Police
Cumberland Johnson, William T  $     203,867  $   117,443  $     86,424 State Police
Atty General Hess, Edgar J  $     196,288  $   116,128  $     80,160 State Police
Atty General Morris, Paul S  $     195,779  $   114,647  $     81,132 State Police
Passaic Lyons, Robert A  $     193,305  $   124,233  $     69,072 Passaic County
Monmouth Gamberg, John C  $     192,964  $   117,328  $     75,636 State Police
Union Buccino, Robert T  $     192,844  $   160,000  $     32,844 State Police
Ocean Malast, William S  $     189,136  $     91,240  $     97,896 State Police
Warren Trauger, Kirk T  $     188,957  $   113,477  $     75,480 State Police
Monmouth Maestrey, Arnaldo V  $     187,868  $   113,000  $     74,868 State Police
Atty General Zichello, Nicholas J  $     186,570  $     99,618  $     86,952 State Police
Bergen Wistner, August III  $     186,350  $   124,742  $     61,608 State Police
Atty General Melson, Robert D  $     185,237  $   117,701  $     67,536 Cherry Hill Twp
Middlesex Merkler, Robert K  $     183,221  $     98,933  $     84,288 South Plainfield
Sussex McCormick, Thomas  $     182,600  $   107,948  $     74,652 State Police
Atty General Quirk, Edward P  $     181,573  $   112,249  $     69,324 State Police
Monmouth Padula, Steven L  $     181,329  $     89,301  $     92,028 Monmouth Co
Mercer Paglione, Albert J  $     180,166  $     79,954  $   100,212 Mercer Co
Warren McCormick, James P  $     177,741  $     91,389  $     86,352 State Police
Cape May Weeks, Mark K  $     177,210  $     86,754  $     90,456 State Police
Cape May Cradock, Marshall A  $     175,218  $     86,754  $     88,464 State Police
Warren Graupe, Brian E  $     173,121  $     91,389  $     81,732 State Police
Atty General Feltri, Dion  $     172,171  $   103,039  $     69,132 Ocean County
Atty General Smith, John A  $     172,149  $     95,037  $     77,112 State Police
Atty General Weidman, Frederick J  $     171,886  $   101,446  $     70,440 State Police
Atty General Evans, Lawrence J  $     170,999  $     88,739  $     82,260 New Brunswick
Union DeBiase, Joseph F Jr  $     170,977  $     87,181  $     83,796 State Police
Atty General Salzmann, David F  $     170,298  $     97,458  $     72,840 State Police
Atty General Lane, Richard H  $     170,052  $     84,684  $     85,368 State Police
Gloucester Perna, William J Sr  $     169,957  $     95,749  $     74,208 State Police
Warren Roncoroni, James E  $     169,117  $     99,157  $     69,960 State Police
Atty General Mai, Mark M  $     168,347  $     97,139  $     71,208 State Police
Hunterdon Rowe, Kenneth S  $     168,313  $     89,197  $     79,116 State Police
Somerset Giannini, Brian  $     167,044  $     98,704  $     68,340 State Police
Union Donovan, Dennis P  $     166,796  $     83,972  $     82,824 State Police
Hunterdon Molinaro, James P  $     166,628  $     81,656  $     84,972 State Police
Atty General Lucas, William W  $     166,567  $   103,039  $     63,528 Trenton City
Atty General Loufik, Richard A  $     165,257  $     87,581  $     77,676 State Police
Atty General Kendig, Patrick J  $     165,130  $   100,810  $     64,320 State Police
Atty General Drummond, Alan  $     164,722  $   100,810  $     63,912 State Police
Cumberland Phifer, Walter G  $     164,340  $     94,488  $     69,852 State Police
Union Danco, Anton W  $     164,169  $     68,289  $     95,880 Clark Twp
Atty General Saiia, Joseph C II  $     163,934  $     78,890  $     85,044 State Police
Camden Auletta, Alfred F Sr  $     162,699  $     71,415  $     91,284 Trenton City
Atty General Macciocca, Donald R  $     161,489  $     87,581  $     73,908 State Police
Atty General Rozwadowski, Ronald C  $     161,170  $   100,810  $     60,360 State Police
Bergen Stallone, William J  $     160,304  $     81,500  $     78,804 Bergen County
Morris Primo, Thomas J  $     160,171  $     90,547  $     69,624 State Police
Atty General Kent, Robert W  $     159,874  $   100,810  $     59,064 State Police
Ocean Cohen, Michael H  $     159,462  $     90,414  $     69,048 Howell Twp
Atty General Davis, William P  $     159,161  $     87,581  $     71,580 State Police
Mercer Wilkins, Thomas  $     158,707  $     71,947  $     86,760 Hamilton Twp
Atty General Carlin, Richard  $     157,990  $   100,810  $     57,180 State Police
Atty General Salvatore, Joseph C  $     157,561  $     89,533  $     68,028 Trenton City
Hunterdon Price, James E  $     156,248  $     81,656  $     74,592 State Police
Sussex Roll, Edward D  $     155,263  $     82,363  $     72,900 State Police
Sussex Porter, Douglas  $     155,155  $     82,363  $     72,792 State Police
Mercer Taylor, James P  $     153,993  $     74,109  $     79,884 Mercer Co
Atty General Royle, Michael J  $     153,601  $     89,533  $     64,068 Atty General
Warren Mezzanotte, Clement J  $     153,069  $     91,389  $     61,680 State Police
Atty General Ferris, Robert M  $     151,699  $   103,039  $     48,660 Gloucester County
Cumberland Tobolski, Ronald T  $     151,374  $     70,410  $     80,964 State Police
Sussex Higgins, Patrick J  $     150,466  $     95,494  $     54,972 State Police
Somerset Scozzafava, Jeffrey M  $     150,232  $     98,704  $     51,528 State Police
Union Adams, Richard J  $     149,982  $     65,622  $     84,360 Union Twp
Morris Gouck, Gary E  $     148,588  $     74,872  $     73,716 Randolph Twp
Atty General Callery, Edward R  $     146,893  $     89,533  $     57,360 Trenton City
Essex Ries, Michael S  $     146,876  $     68,000  $     78,876 Atty General
Sussex Voris, Dean S  $     145,740  $     63,084  $     82,656 State Police
Atty General Sheeran, John A  $     145,337  $     87,581  $     57,756 State Police
Salem Cuzzupe, John S  $     144,847  $     60,643  $     84,204 State Police
Monmouth McCormick, Guy G  $     143,707  $     48,439  $     95,268 Monmouth Co
Atty General Saunders, William J  $     143,689  $     92,917  $     50,772 Atty General
Burlington Scowcraft, Steven R  $     143,272  $     58,000  $     85,272 State Police
Sussex Catalano, Charles  $     142,479  $   117,519  $     24,960 State Police
Atty General Culp, Thomas E  $     140,134  $   100,810  $     39,324 Scotch Plains Twp
Ocean Koehler, Louis A  $     139,166  $     39,650  $     99,516 Toms River Twp
Atty General Bacsik, Kenneth A  $     138,625  $     89,533  $     49,092 Div of Crim Justice
Middlesex Ducca, William F  $     138,528  $     75,000  $     63,528 Highland Park Boro
Atty General Contreras, Ruben T  $     137,269  $     89,533  $     47,736 Essex Co
Union Mason, Robert J  $     137,012  $     68,408  $     68,604 Springfield Twp
Salem Bratty, Robert  $     133,651  $     60,643  $     73,008 State Police
Warren Harzer, William F  $     130,440  $     77,496  $     52,944 Warren County
Mercer Notta, Stephen A  $     129,175  $     53,107  $     76,068 Trenton City
Middlesex Miller, Robert L  $     127,760  $     57,416  $     70,344 N Brunswick Twp
Union Byron, Vincent F  $     127,092  $     45,000  $     82,092 Essex County
Gloucester Donovan, William Jr  $     125,661  $     75,057  $     50,604 Gloucester County
Burlington Marter, Robert C  $     125,288  $     49,400  $     75,888 Mt Laurel Twp
Atlantic Talavera, Darren  $     124,629  $     49,677  $     74,952 State Police
Ocean Jennings, Ronald E  $     124,509  $     40,245  $     84,264 Wall Twp
Middlesex Gately, Peter J  $     124,332  $     59,676  $     64,656 Plainsboro Twp
Ocean Nasatka, James J  $     123,585  $     40,245  $     83,340 Brick Twp
Union Hogan, Kenneth J  $     123,009  $     57,909  $     65,100 Irvington Twp
Atty General Crescenz, Charles M  $     122,785  $     89,533  $     33,252 State Police
Essex Lagattuta, Charles P  $     121,960  $     55,000  $     66,960 Cedar Grove Twp
Cape May Skill, Vicki L  $     120,996  $     53,040  $     67,956 North Wildwood
Burlington Fischer, Tod M  $     120,732  $     60,000  $     60,732 Evesham Twp
Mercer Hancikovsky, Gary J  $     120,666  $     56,358  $     64,308 Hamilton Twp
Ocean Dishon, James L  $     120,525  $     40,245  $     80,280 Ocean Co
Mercer Richardson, Wesley W  $     118,096  $     67,036  $     51,060 Trenton City
Mercer Johnson, Marvin H  $     117,955  $     53,215  $     64,740 Trenton City
Cumberland Cuff, Ernest R  $     117,505  $     65,053  $     52,452 Bridgeton City
Burlington O’Dwyer, Robert E  $     116,427  $     56,019  $     60,408 Hamilton Twp
Union Duffy, William J  $     113,184  $     47,976  $     65,208 Clark Twp
Cape May Majane, Francis P  $     112,673  $     67,745  $     44,928 Lower Twp
Atlantic McFadden, Joseph  $     111,128  $     53,792  $     57,336 Atlantic City
Ocean Kriney, Roger D  $     110,853  $     40,245  $     70,608 Toms River Twp
Monmouth Weinkofsky, Charles B  $     108,016  $     40,000  $     68,016 Ocean Twp
Essex McGarry, John J  $     107,148  $     53,580  $     53,568 East Orange City
Mercer Stout, Raymond M  $     106,803  $     62,439  $     44,364 Trenton City
Cape May Loefflad, Paul A  $     105,766  $     53,134  $     52,632 Middle Twp
Mercer Kieffer, Darwin W  $     105,543  $     51,399  $     54,144 Hamilton Twp
Mercer Kemler, Robert  $     103,239  $     51,399  $     51,840 Trenton City
Morris Aria, Lois A  $     103,196  $     50,000  $     53,196 Hudson County
Union Madden, Joseph F  $     102,182  $     46,790  $     55,392 Union Twp
Cumberland Velez, Beny  $     101,507  $     50,303  $     51,204 Vineland City
Union D’Andrea, Anthony  $       99,361  $     49,933  $     49,428 State Police
Atlantic Cavanaugh, Brian  $       98,430  $     34,758  $     63,672 Hamilton Twp
Ocean Panzarino, Michael T  $       94,917  $     40,245  $     54,672 Toms River Twp
Warren Vernotica, John J  $       90,543  $     55,695  $     34,848 Warren County
Monmouth Mayo, Wesley Sr  $       89,126  $     47,966  $     41,160 Long Branch City
Ocean Chant, Thomas E  $       88,245  $     40,245  $     48,000 Toms River Twp
Atlantic Martella, Raymond  $       81,132  $     32,448  $     48,684 Atlantic County
TOTAL  $18,533,823  $9,932,931  $8,600,892
AVERAGE  $     148,270  $     79,463  $     68,807

 

New Jersey Watchdog’s research focused on current employees of New Jersey county prosecutors, the Office of Attorney General and Division of Criminal Justice, who draw retirement pay from state pension funds. Data are from pension, payroll and personnel records obtained from the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Civil Service Commission and individual counties through state Open Public Records Act requests. Pension amounts and employment status are current as of December 2011.

This report was first published Dec. 30, 2011.

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Mark Lagerkvist is New Jersey Watchdog's investigative reporter. He can be reached at mark@NJwatchdog.org.

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