Sandusky fights to keep state pension from state prison - abc27 WHTM

Sandusky fights to keep state pension from state prison

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Jerry Sandusky fought to keep his state pension from state prison on Monday morning. State Employees' Retirement System held a hearing in Harrisburg whether or not the convicted child molester should retain his state pension.

Shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, Jerry Sandusky took the stand via video conference from state prison Monday morning. The 69-year-old's wife, Dottie, was present during a State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) hearing to determine if the state should reinstate the former football coach's state pension.

Sandusky's attorney Charles Benjamin began questioning his client about his employment with Penn State University. Benjamin hammered home that Sandusky retired in July of 1999. His attorney maintained that Sandusky was hired as an 'independent contractor' or emergency coach during the fall season of 1999, when the then Defensive Coordinator helped the team to an Alamo Bowl victory that December.

Following Sandusky's historic conviction of child sex crimes, abc27's Dave Marcheskie reported a loophole involving his state pension regarding Act 140.

SERS subsequently determined that Sandusky's crimes did violate the Pennsylvania Public Employee Forfeiture Act (Act 140) under Section 3, stating, "If such a public official or public employee is convicted or pleads guilty or no defense to any crime related to public office or public employment."

This argument is important because SERS revoked Sandusky's $4,908.17 monthly state pension shortly after he was sentenced 30 to 60 years in state prison in October 2012.

Benjamin set the argument that Sandusky's crimes he was convicted of did not occur when he was a state employee, because the coach officially retired in 1999. From 2000 to 2008, Sandusky only acted as an "independent contractor" at times.

[Benjamin] "Did you ever hold yourself out to anyone as a Penn State employee?"

[Sandusky] "Absolutely not."

SERS pointed out Sandusky negotiated a special deal with then Penn State University Athletic Director Tim Curley to "maintain a prominent and regular relationship with PSU." SERS listed numerous examples of how Jerry Sandusky was linked to the PSU while conducting summer camps and youth outreach as a representative of the Second Mile foundation.

One example cited by SERS was that Sandusky received 71 separate payments from PSU for meals, travel, lodging, speaking engagements and other activities from Jan. 2, 2000, to July 22, 2008.

Sandusky argued this claim to be false.

"I don't know the exact number for sure. But, I know it was in the neighborhood of three," Sandusky said. "It was far from 71."

Benjamin acknowledged that Sandusky received three payments from PSU in lieu of speaking engagements for $100, $300, and $1,500. Sandusky's attorney also pointed out the SERS alleged information came from the Louis Freeh report. Benjamin asked for this to be thrown out because he argued the Freeh report is not a legal document.

During cross examination, Sandusky was grilled about his special relationship with PSU and its ties to the Second Mile foundation. Sandusky was asked why most Second Mile activities involved PSU and how he was still had access to use campus facilities, on-field football game access, free parking pass, paid phones and free merchandise at no cost.

"It was a place that helped me start the Second Mile," Sandusky said. "I didn't want any transition from my retirement to full-time employment with the Second Mile...that kind of relationship that had been developed over the years."

Hearing facilitator Michael Bangs said he would allow SERS to file any additions or objection to witness testimony within 30 days after the hearing. Sandusky's attorney would have another 15 days to file a rebuttal. Bangs said he would issue an opinion shortly after. Officials believe is Bangs denies Sandusky's pension request, Sandusky could appeal. The decision would be left to Commonwealth Court.

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