Call it the $100K Club — an elite corps of retired public employees that’s growing bigger, younger and richer at the expense of the New Jersey retirement system.
The number of retirees collecting more than $100,000 a year from state pensions jumped to 1,244 last year, up 28 percent from 2010, according to New Jersey Watchdog’s analysis of state data.
“Special retirements” by police and fire employees — some as young as age 43 — account for half of the increase. It is really special for those who game the system.
New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo, for example, retired at age 47 to draw a $115,019 annual pension. On his way out, he collected $376,234 from the city for unused vacation, sick and personal time.
One year later, New Brunswick rehired Caputo as police director — the same position — at a $120,000 salary. For one job, he receives two checks, totaling $235,019 a year. Caputo did not respond to a request for comment.
For a privileged minority of public employees, benefits are so generous that many become pension millionaires without double-dipping. Meanwhile, state retirement funds face a deficit estimated from $36 billion to $144 billion.
Joseph Blaettler will rake in more than $4.5 million from the Police and Firemen’s Retirement Fund, if he reaches age 80, his statistical life expectancy.
At age 46, Blaettler began pocketing nearly $135,000 a year in retirement checks when he stepped down as Union City deputy police chief in 2009. Blaettler — now a private investigator — gets the biggest pension New Jersey pays to any retiree under 50.
“Politicians created this system, and I simply accepted what they gave me along the way,” wrote Blaettler in an email to New Jersey Watchdog. “If taxpayers want to get angry with someone, they need to ask their local and state politicians how they allowed the system to get to the point it is at.”
New Jersey Watchdog found 56 other $100K Club members who retired in their 40s. (See list below.) All are PFRS pensioners who worked for local or county governments and took advantage of the special retirement rule, available only to eligible police, prosecutors and fire officials.
The rule allows them to retire at any age after 25 years of employment. Their pension pay ranges from 60 percent to 70 percent of their highest salary under the state’s formula.
Of the $100K Club’s 1,244 pensioners, 552 — or 45 percent — belong to PFRS. Special retirements account for 479 — or 87 percent — of those six-figure pensions.
The club also includes 383 retirees from the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund, 253 from the Judicial Retirement System and 99 from the Public Employee Retirement System.
No one from the State Police Retirement System made the $100K Club. SPRS’s top retiree, William Malast, fell short with $97,897 a year in pension pay.
Not surprisingly, the biggest pensions often go to public officials who received the largest salaries.
Robert Mulcahy hit the jackpot, when he was fired as Rutgers University’s $341,250-a-year athletic director in 2008. He was forced out after a university audit found secret deals and off-the-books spending by his regime.
Mulcahy received a severance package that cost Rutgers more than $600,000. Under the agreement, the state university paid:
- $511,875, equaling 18 months of Mulcahy’s salary,
- $60,000 in bonus money,
- $18,000 in automobile allowance,
- $13,950 for country club membership dues, and
- $15,000 to pay Mulcahy’s lawyer for negotiating the agreement.
Because Mulcahy was paid in one lump sum, he was free to start collecting a $162,399 annual pension from PERS the following month. It is the second-largest retirement benefit paid by New Jersey.
Thanks to Gov. Chris Christie, Mulcahy is back in state government.
Mulcahy is vice chairman of CRDA. Authority officials say he chose not to receive a salary, set by statute at $18,000 a year.
Mulcahy could not be reached for comment.
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$100K CLUB MEMBERS WHO RETIRED UNDER AGE 50
|Name||Retire Age||Pension/YR||Employer at Retirement|
|BLAETTLER, JOSEPH J||46||$134,773||UNION CITY|
|NOVICK, CRAIG R||47||$126,210||FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (SOMERSET)|
|MURRAY, JOSEPH A||46||$121,937||PATERSON CITY|
|OREILLY, MICHAEL J||49||$120,134||JERSEY CITY FIRE DEPT.|
|PECKERMAN, MICHAEL A||48||$120,015||PARSIPPANY TROY HILLS TOWNSHIP|
|MANGARELLA, PETER J||48||$116,407||NEW BRUNSWICK CITY|
|CAPUTO, ANTHONY A||47||$115,019||NEW BRUNSWICK CITY|
|MORAN, ROBERT||49||$114,990||ENGLEWOOD CITY|
|CUNNING, EDWARD T||49||$113,913||HOBOKEN CITY|
|ZISA, FRANK C||48||$113,355||HACKENSACK CITY|
|DUNTON, CHRISTOPHER L||49||$110,800||JACKSON TOWNSHIP|
|REGINO, DANIEL||48||$109,245||TENAFLY BOROUGH|
|MAYER, ANTHONY G||45||$108,579||HILLSIDE TOWNSHIP|
|WRIGHT, ROBERT||47||$108,513||PARAMUS BOROUGH|
|NEWMAN, DAVID||48||$108,228||JACKSON TOWNSHIP|
|SMITH, BRIAN P||49||$107,685||PARAMUS BOROUGH|
|SMITH, MARK A||48||$107,683||BAYONNE CITY|
|ROMAN, RICHARD||47||$107,485||HACKENSACK CITY|
|CRAMPTON, PETER J||45||$106,925||PATERSON CITY|
|TIERNAN, PAUL M||49||$106,701||TEANECK TOWNSHIP|
|SCHWARTZ, ROBERT A||49||$106,701||ATLANTIC CITY|
|DAUBER, JOHN L||48||$106,128||EDISON TOWNSHIP|
|MCDONALD, EDWIN J||44||$106,075||PERTH AMBOY CITY|
|CROTHERS, THOMAS R||48||$105,980||EAST BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP|
|BRINGA, ALBERTO L||47||$105,333||WEST NEW YORK TOWN|
|LOMIA, FRANK||48||$105,061||HACKENSACK CITY|
|SALIM, JOHN R||48||$104,951||HACKENSACK CITY|
|CATANESE, JOSEPH J||48||$104,668||NEW BRUNSWICK CITY|
|DEPOLO, DANIEL J||48||$104,570||POINT PLEASANT BEACH BOROUGH|
|RICHMOND, GARY||47||$104,460||NORTH BERGEN TOWNSHIP|
|STOLTENBORG, RICHARD J||49||$103,908||RIDGEFIELD BOROUGH|
|CLAYTON, TIMOTHY J||46||$103,815||WALL TOWNSHIP|
|MARKULIC, DONNA L||46||$103,540||HOWELL TOWNSHIP|
|HAILEY, KEVIN C||49||$102,988||CAMDEN CITY|
|PARKER, LARRY D||44||$102,861||STAFFORD TOWNSHIP|
|GUTCH, JAMES F||49||$102,644||JERSEY CITY|
|HARGIS, EDWARD G||45||$102,561||CAMDEN CITY|
|KLOOS, WILLIAM D||49||$102,521||NORTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP|
|ORIENTE, MICHAEL||47||$102,432||NORTH HUDSON REG FIRE & RESCUE|
|PARREY, ERNEST T||47||$102,428||TRENTON CITY|
|TURNER, MICHAEL||47||$102,303||HOBOKEN CITY|
|PALOTTA, JOHN||47||$102,276||BERGEN COUNTY|
|GOLDBERG, BRUCE R||49||$102,234||HACKENSACK CITY|
|THOMPSON, JOHN P||49||$102,100||RUTHERFORD BOROUGH|
|SABO, STEVEN M||49||$101,954||ENGLEWOOD CITY|
|OSINSKI, WILLIAM D||46||$101,868||HACKENSACK CITY|
|CZULADA, THOMAS J||47||$101,543||BERGEN COUNTY|
|MCGORTY, THOMAS||48||$101,405||WEEHAWKEN TOWNSHIP|
|TREANOR, JOSEPH M||43||$101,356||UNION CITY|
|QUIDOR, STEVEN||46||$101,211||NORTH HUDSON REG FIRE & RESCUE|
|CUNNING, DANIEL A||48||$100,958||HOBOKEN CITY|
|JANZEKOVICH, ROBERT J||46||$100,782||EAST BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP|
|DAINO, DANIEL||48||$100,751||NORTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP|
|OWENS, PATRICK J||48||$100,453||SOUTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP|
|LEE, DONALD J||49||$100,353||HACKENSACK CITY|
|PADO, KENNETH L||46||$100,336||NORTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP|
|LANDAU, ERIC||48||$100,328||MARLBORO TOWNSHIP|
|HERVEY, STEVEN J||48||$100,104||FORT LEE BOROUGH|
New Jersey Watchdog’s research focused on retirees from public employment who receive more than $100,000 a year in retirement pay from the state pension system. Disability pensions and benefits for survivors were not included the study.
Data are from state pension records provided by the New Jersey State Treasury. Pension amounts are current as of December 31, 2011.
The above table lists employees who took “special retirements” before age 50. The retirement ages are accurate within a six-month margin of error. State and local government agencies consider release of exact birth dates as an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of public employees.
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Links to New Jersey Watchdog’s previous investigative stories on New Jersey public pensions: