Commonwealth Court Panel Rules Jerry Sandusky to Get His Pension Back

When Jerry Sandusky was sentenced in October 2012 to 30-60 years in prison after sexually assaulting various boys of various ages, the State Employees’ Retirement Board took away his pension due to believing Sandusky committed the crimes while still an employee at Penn State University.

Sandusky will spend the rest of his life behind bars, and up until yesterday, his pension from his Penn State years was unavailable to him. It’s not a small number, as his pension is $4,900 per month, which he’s been getting since retiring from the university in 1999.

The Commonwealth Court panel ruled that the Board incorrectly withheld Sandusky’s pension, so now he’s to get it back. [AP]

“The board conflated the requirements that Mr. Sandusky engage in ‘work relating to’ PSU and that he engage in that work ‘for’ PSU,” wrote Judge Dan Pellegrini. “Mr. Sandusky’s performance of services that benefited PSU does not render him a PSU employee.”

Although Sandusky’s accused abuse dates back to while he was still an employee at the university, the court panel believes he was responsible for his crimes while working through his Second Mile charity after retiring.

The basis for the pension board’s decision was a provision in the state Pension Forfeiture Act that applies to “crimes related to public office or public employment,” and he was convicted of indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
The judges said the board’s characterization of Sandusky as a Penn State employee at the time those offenses occurred was erroneous because he did not maintain an employer-employee relationship with the university after 1999.
The judges ordered the board to pay back interest and reinstated the pension retroactively, granting him about three years of makeup payments.
Sandusky attorney Richard A. Beran said the board had taken from the Sanduskys what was rightfully theirs.
“Perhaps a majority lacked the courage to apply the law as stated,” Beran said. He called the December 2014 decision “certainly one that probably pleased the public in light of the current state of the Pennsylvania pension system, but under the law it was very clear he was entitled to it and his wife is entitled to the pension if Jerry predeceases her.”

The decision will likely be appealed.

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