By Mark Lagerkvist | New Jersey Watchdog
New Jersey State Lottery Deputy Director Duane Daniels hit a jackpot when he retired as a State Police captain at age 50.
Daniels started collecting an $88,296 annual state pension in October 2009. That same month, he was hired as the lottery’s head of security at a $90,000 salary. For Daniels, who did not respond to requests for comment, his annual payout increased to $178,296.
In this game, taxpayers don’t stand a chance. The rules are rigged in favor of Daniels and scores of other retirees. While mid-career retirements drain millions from state pension funds that face a $41.7 billion shortfall, double-dipping adds insult to voters who were promised reform.
A New Jersey Watchdog investigation found 80 State Police retirees are back on the state payroll as full-time employees. Collectively, they receive $12.8 million a year – nearly $7 million in salaries plus $5.8 million from pensions. Of the 80 “retired” troopers:
- Twenty-two are re-employed by the State Police; 19 as investigators. They draw both State Police pensions and paychecks.
- Twenty-seven work as investigators elsewhere within the Department of Law & Public Safety, the agency in charge of the State Police. Twenty are assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice, five are under the Division of Law, and the Division of Consumer Affairs and Office of Attorney General each employ one.
- Thirty-one State Police retirees work at other state agencies, including the State Comptroller, Treasury, Education, Insurance & Banking, Secretary of State, Motor Vehicle Commission, State Parole Board, Human Services, Health and Senior Services, Information Technology and Office of Homeland Security.
Topping the list are five double-dipping State Police retirees who each rake in more than $200,000 annually:
- Drew Lieb, Homeland Security division director, gets $226,144 a year – $130,000 in salary and $96,144 from pension.
- Dennis Quinn, Homeland Security’s chief of staff, receives $210,808 a year – $130,000 in salary plus $80,808 from pension.
- Robert Cicchino, head of fiscal responsibility for the Department of Education, cashes $210,226 a year in state checks – $118,450 in salary and $91,776 from pension.
- State Parole Board member Allen DelVento collects $206,149 a year – $116,305 in salary plus $89,844 from pension.
- Assistant Insurance Commissioner Joseph Brennan draws $204,960 a year – $123,000 in salary and $81,960 in pension.
Fifteen of the 80 double-dippers retired and were rehired by the state during Gov. Chris Christie’s first three years in office.
On average, the re-employed State Police retirees get $160,217 a year – $87,039 in salary plus $73,178 from pension. They take advantage of rules that encourage personnel to retire at relatively young ages – starting in their mid-40s – then collect benefits for the rest of their lives.
Regardless of age, they can take “service retirement” after 20 years of service to collect half of their salary – or “special retirement” after 25 years to collect 65 percent of their highest pay. For those who don’t get the hint, the State Police has a mandatory retirement age of 55.
“It’s basically a young person’s job,” Sen. Frederick Madden, former State Police deputy director, told New Jersey Watchdog last year. “The system is set up for them to retire early to keep the forces young.”
Yet Madden, D-Gloucester, favors rehiring those retirees because of the experience that comes with age.
“There’s a lot of positives to taking retirees that have strong resumes and a productive work experience and placing them in other public jobs,” he said.
Madden is a “triple-dipper” who receives nearly a quarter-million dollars each year from public coffers, as reported by New Jersey Watchdog. In addition to his $85,272 State Police pension, Madden gets $49,000 as a state legislator and $109,390 as a dean in charge of the Police Academy at Gloucester County College.
“Obviously, I don’t have a problem with people doing it,” said Madden. “I’ve accepted that in my own personal life.”
The problem is the impact on the State Police Retirement System. SPRS is underfunded by $579 million – a shortfall that has increased 66 percent since 2006, according to the most recent fiscal data released by the state.
Even worse, the number of State Police retirees drawing pensions now exceeds the number of employees who contribute to the pension. In 2012, for the first time, there were more SPRS retirees (3,019) than active members (2,776).
In other words, there are more retirees drawing 50 percent to 70 percent of their highest salaries in pensions from SPRS than workers contributing 9 percent of their pay to the fund.
SPRS is relatively small, representing one-half of 1 percent of New Jersey’s public pension system membership. But its woes may foreshadow a fate that larger state pension funds seem likely to face.
The Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, the only other state pension to offer special retirement, is headed in the same direction. PFRS has nearly as many retirees receiving pensions (39,413) as members contributing to the fund (41,518).
PFRS faces a shortfall of $7.7 billion. It has 18 percent of the pension system’s projected $41.7 billion deficit, though only 8 percent of the system’s members.
Despite the state’s own numbers, Christie contends the pension crisis has been solved under his leadership as governor.
“Just three years ago, our pension system was in ruins…” said Christie in his budget address on Feb. 26. “Today, our pension system is on a path to restored health.”
Following several years in which state government failed to meet its required financial obligations to the pension funds, Christie promised his 2014 budget will include a $1.6-billion annual contribution. The question is whether it’s too little and too late.
The list of 80 State Police re-employed retirees originated with tips from New Jersey Watchdog readers. The information was verified through the most recent available state pension and payroll databases, updated on Dec. 31, 2012.
The list does not include State Police retirees who work for New Jersey’s 21 county or 565 municipal governments.
A New Jersey Watchdog investigation last year counted 37 State Police retirees on the payrolls of county prosecutors. They collected a total of $6.1 million a year – $3.4 million in salaries plus $2.7 million from state pensions.
Another New Jersey Watchdog report found that Warren County Sheriff David Gallant gets $206,464 a year – $124,084 in salary plus $82,380 from his SPRS pension. Three county undersheriffs, two in Warren County and one in Salem County, also are State Police retiree. They receive a total of $503,685 a year – $246,417 in salaries and $257,268 from pensions.
NEW JERSEY WATCHDOG’S LIST OF 80 STATE POLICE RETIREES WHO COLLECT SALARY & PENSION
|DelVento||Allen||$206,149||$116,305||$89,844||State Parole Board|
|Flarity||Thomas||$188,544||$105,000||$83,544||Motor Vehicle Comm|
|Galloway||Wendy||$176,748||$90,000||$86,748||Secy of State|
|O’Brien||John||$173,556||$84,000||$89,556||Health & Senior Svcs|
|Saiia||Joseph III||$166,831||$81,787||$85,044||Criminal Justice|
|Salvadore||Peter||$161,772||$75,000||$86,772||State Parole Board|
|Chatenka||William||$159,361||$89,533||$69,828||Motor Vehicle Comm|
|Shurts||William||$153,703||$61,855||$91,848||Motor Vehicle Comm|
|Armitage||Debra||$151,972||$74,476||$77,496||Motor Vehicle Comm|
|Whittaker||James||$142,942||$86,578||$56,364||Motor Vehicle Comm|
|Healey||Kevin||$142,452||$63,000||$79,452||Health & Senior Svcs|