Open government activist John Paff recently called attention to the issue of improper enrollment in the state pension system and has learned of an interesting development.
It appears that the New Jersey Pension Fraud and Abuse Unit is starting to crack down on municipal professionals who are enrolled in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). The Unit recently required the Borough of Gibbsboro to remove two attorneys from its pension rolls — its municipal prosecutor and public defender. Removals were effective September 1st. That seems to mean that there will be no further accrual of pension credit but that existing credit may still result in a future pension benefit for these individuals.
Paff questioned if the removals should be retroactive to 2008, when a New Jersey pension reform law took effect. After all, should those who skirted compliance with the law benefit from doing so?
In 2012, the state comptroller reported that a majority of towns and school districts had failed to comply with the 2008 law by removing independent contractors from PERS. At that time, 332 professionals remained in the system. Paff has requested the names of those enrollees, but the state has refused to identify them.
The public has a right to know. If we are not made privy to abuses, we will not be empowered to correct them.