Governor Peter Shumlin has signed a bill that allows a judge to take away a public employee’s pension if the worker is guilty of a financial crime relating to the public office.
The bill was drafted in response to an overtime scandal involving former State Police Sergeant James Deeghan. The officer pleaded guilty early this year to charges that he submitted time sheets for hours he did not work.
At a signing ceremony this morning, Shumlin said the bill protects taxpayers when a public employee is convicted of fraud or embezzlement.
"As we all know, in the Deeghan case, it was made clear that we needed to have protections in place that ensured that judges have the authority when a public employee does rip off the taxpayer to be able to ensure that they weren’t retiring on money that was stolen from the public," Shumlin said.
The new law says the judge has to consider a number of factors in determining whether a pension should be forfeited. These include the severity of the crime, the amount of money that was taken, and whether innocent family members depend on the pension.