PA Politicians Still Looking Out for Number One – NO RESTITUTION FOR PUBLIC CORRUPTION VICTIMS

public corruption

The cavalier attitude continues in Pennsylvania government, even after all of the corruption exposed over the last decade.  With three State Supreme Court Justices removed, two Common Pleas judges in prison for the Kids for Cash Scandal, the concealment of the Penn State pedophile, the firing of the entire Philadelphia Traffic Court – our elected politicians have the audacity to continue to act in their own best interests.

This bill was to amend the Act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), entitled “An act providing for the forfeiture of the pensions of certain public employees and authorizing the State or political subdivision to garnish the pension benefits of certain public officers and employees upon conviction of certain criminal activity related to their office or position of employment,” In 2004, another amendment was made, which added various criminal codes.

The bill  in its current form falls disgracefully short, and even more appalling is the removal of the original provision of restitution  in Page 6, Section 4 at line 29, for citizens victims of public corruption, which read:

“…the court shall order the defendant to make complete and full restitution of any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense to any victim, including, but not limited to the Commonwealth or a political subdivision of [any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense]”

As can be seen the word “victim” was removed by the Judiciary Committee, which should not have had any input on this bill, in April 14, 2015.  It was returned to the House and was passed on May 17, 2016 and it now reads for review by the Senate as:

“…the court shall order the defendant to make complete and full restitution to the Commonwealth or political subdivision of any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense.”

Senator Stewart Greenleaf, has Chaired and controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee for almost 30 years.  To have the same lawyer controlling the laws in this state for decades is unconstitutional- no one should serve more than one term on any committee, let alone as the Chair, be able to filter the bills.  Not to mention all of the Senator’s election campaigns were funded by lawyers, some of whom are now judges.

This is also further proof that lawyers do not belong in the legislature.  They are too closely tied with lawyer-judges that are employed in the Judicial Branch, and  is addressed in the Judicial Transparency Act proposal sent to members of the Legislature by Pennsylvania Court Watch in October 2015.

The bill still also allows resignations by judges to save their pensions. The current version is below. The politicians probably intend to make the restitution funds part of the budget to apply to their salaries.  Below is the contents of the bill as it now appears in the Senate for review. If people would contact these Judiciary Committee members, maybe an appropriate bill focused on protections for the public would be enacted.

THE WAY TO CHANGE THIS IS TO SPEAK UP – CALL YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES!

 The underlined portions are changes to the bill, which was passed by the House and is now in the Senate as of May 18, 2016.

PUBLIC CORRUPTION BILL ONLINE WEBPAGE

PRIOR PRINTER’S NOS. 582, 1184 PRINTER’S NO.  3364

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

HOUSE BILL

No. 17 Session of

2015

INTRODUCED BY PETRI, BARRAR, BLOOM, CUTLER, DIAMOND, EVERETT, LAWRENCE, MACKENZIE, MALONEY, MARSHALL, MICCARELLI, MURT, SACCONE, SIMMONS, STEPHENS, WATSON, FARRY, SANTARSIERO, B. MILLER, KILLION AND DEAN, FEBRUARY 23, 2015

AS AMENDED ON SECOND CONSIDERATION, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MAY 17, 2016

AN ACT

Amending the act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), entitled “An act providing for the forfeiture of the pensions of certain public employees and authorizing the State or political subdivision to garnish the pension benefits of certain public officers and employees upon conviction of certain criminal activity related to their office or position of employment,” further providing for definitions, for disqualification and forfeiture of benefits and for restitution for monetary loss; and repealing a retroactivity provision.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1.  The definitions of “crimes related to public office or public employment” and “public official” or “public employee” in section 2 of the act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), known as the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act, amended July 15, 2004 (P.L.733, No.86), are amended and the section is amended by adding a definition definitions to read:

Section 2.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:

“Benefits administrator.”  A retirement board, pension fund administrator or employer that manages, controls or maintains a pension system for public officials or public employees.

“Crimes related to public office or public employment.”  Any of the criminal offenses as set forth in the following provisions of Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes or other enumerated statute when committed by a public official or public employee through his public office or position or when his public employment places him in a position to commit the crime:

Any of the criminal offenses set forth in Subchapter B of Chapter 31 (relating to definition of offenses) when the criminal offense is committed by a school employee [as defined in 24 Pa.C.S. § 8102 (relating to definitions)] against a student.

Section 3922 (relating to theft by deception) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.

Section 3923 (relating to theft by extortion) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.

Section 3926 (relating to theft of services) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.

Section 3927 (relating to theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher.

Section 4101 (relating to forgery).

Section 4104 (relating to tampering with records or identification).

Section 4113 (relating to misapplication of entrusted property and property of government or financial institutions) when the criminal culpability reaches the level of misdemeanor of the second degree.

[Section 4701 (relating to bribery in official and political matters).]

Section 4702 (relating to threats and other improper influence in official and political matters).

[Section 4902 (relating to perjury).]

Section 4903(a) (relating to false swearing).

Section 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities).

Section 4906 (relating to false reports to law enforcement authorities).

[Section 4909 (relating to witness or informant taking bribe).]

Section 4910 (relating to tampering with or fabricating physical evidence).

Section 4911 (relating to tampering with public records or information).

Section 4952 (relating to intimidation of witnesses or victims).

Section 4953 (relating to retaliation against witness, victim or party).

Section 5101 (relating to obstructing administration of law or other governmental function).

Section 5301 (relating to official oppression).

Section 5302 (relating to speculating or wagering on official action or information).

Article III of the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the “Tax Reform Code of 1971.”

Any criminal offense under the laws of this Commonwealth classified as a felony or punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding five years.

In addition to the foregoing specific crimes, the term also includes all criminal offenses as set forth in Federal law that are:

(1)  substantially the same as the crimes enumerated herein[.];

(2)  classified as a felony; or

(3)  punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding five years.

* * *

“Public official” or “public employee.”  Any person who is elected or appointed to any public office or employment including justices, judges and [justices of the peace] magisterial district judges and members of the General Assembly or who is acting or who has acted in behalf of the Commonwealth or a political subdivision or any agency thereof including but not limited to any person who has so acted and is otherwise entitled to or is receiving retirement benefits whether that person is acting on a permanent or temporary basis and whether or not compensated on a full or part-time basis. This term shall not include independent contractors nor their employees or agents under contract to the Commonwealth or political subdivision nor shall it apply to any person performing tasks over which the Commonwealth or political subdivision has no legal right of control. However, this term shall include all persons who are members of any retirement system funded in whole or in part by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision. For the purposes of this act such persons are deemed to be engaged in public employment.

“School employee.”  As defined in 24 Pa.C.S. § 8102 (relating to definitions).

“Student.”  An individual who is:

(1)  instructed by a school employee;

(2)  supervised by a school employee;

(3)  counseled by a school employee; or

(4)  mentored by a school employee.

Section 2.  Sections 3(a), (b) and (d) and 4(a) and (d) of the act are amended to read:

Section 3.  Disqualification and forfeiture of benefits.

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no public official or public employee nor any beneficiary designated by such public official or public employee shall be entitled to receive any retirement or other benefit or payment of any kind except a return of the contribution paid into any pension fund without interest, if such public official or public employee is [convicted] found guilty of a crime related to public office or public employment or pleads guilty or no [defense] contest to any crime related to public office or public employment.

(b)  [The benefits shall be forfeited upon entry of a plea of guilty or no defense or upon initial conviction and no payment or partial payment shall be made during the pendency of an appeal. If] The benefits shall be immediately forfeited upon the public official’s or public employee’s entry of a plea of guilty or no contest or upon initial entry of a jury verdict or judicial order of guilty, with respect to any crimes related to public office or public employment. The forfeiture shall not be stayed or affected by pendency of an appeal or collateral attack on the plea, verdict or order, regardless of whether a court has entered or stayed the sentence pending the appeal or collateral attack. If a plea, verdict or order is vacated and a verdict of not guilty is rendered or the indictment or criminal information finally dismissed, then the public official or public employee shall be reinstated as a member of the pension fund or system and shall be entitled to all benefits including those accruing during the period of forfeiture if any. Such [conviction or] plea, verdict or order shall be deemed to be a breach of a public officer’s or public employee’s contract with his employer.

* * *

(d)  The appropriate [retirement board] benefits administrator may retain a member’s contributions and interest thereon for the purpose of paying any fine imposed upon the member of the fund by a court of competent jurisdiction, or for the repayment of any funds misappropriated by such member from the Commonwealth or any political subdivision.

* * *

Section 4.  Restitution for monetary loss.

(a)  Whenever any public official or public employee who is a member of any pension system funded by public moneys [is convicted or pleads guilty or pleads no defense] enters a plea of guilty or no contest in any court of record to any crime related to a public office or public employment or whenever there is initial entry of a jury verdict or judicial order of guilty against the public official or public employee in any court of record to any crime related to a public office or public employment, the court shall order the defendant to make complete and full restitution to the Commonwealth or political subdivision of any monetary loss incurred as a result of the criminal offense.

* * *

(d)  [The retirement board, administrator of the pension fund or employer of the defendant] Upon the finding of guilty of a public official or public employee, or upon the entry of a plea of guilty or no contest in any court of record by a public official or public employee, the court shall notify the appropriate benefits administrator of such finding or entrance of plea. The appropriate benefits administrator, upon being served with a copy of the court’s order, shall pay over all such pension benefits, contributions or other benefits to the extent necessary to satisfy the order of restitution.

Section 3.  Section 7 of the act is repealed:

[Section 7.  Retroactively.

The provisions of this act shall be retroactive to December 1, 1972.]

Section 4.  The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:

(1)  This section applies to the following provisions:

(i)  The editorial change in the second paragraph of the definition of “crimes related to public office or public employment” in section 2 of the act.

(ii)  The addition of the definitions of “school employee” and “student” in section 2 of the act.

(2)  The provisions referred to in paragraph (1) are intended to clarify the scope of the act as amended by the act of July 15, 2004 (P.L.733, No.86), entitled “An act amending the act of July 8, 1978 (P.L.752, No.140), entitled ‘An act providing for the forfeiture of the pensions of certain public employees and authorizing the State or political subdivision to garnish the pension benefits of certain public officers and employees upon conviction of certain criminal activity related to their office or position of employment,’ further defining ‘crimes related to public office or public employment’ to include certain sexual offenses committed by school employees against students.”

Section 4 5.  The following provisions apply to crimes related to public office or public employment committed on or after the effective date of this section:

(1)  The amendment or addition of the definitions of “benefits administrator,” “crimes related to public office or public employment” except for the editorial change in the second paragraph of the definition, and “public official” or “public employee” in section 2 of the act.

(2)  The amendment of section 3(a), (b) and (d) of the act.

(3)  The amendment of section 4(a) and (d) of the act.

(4)  The repeal of section 7 of the act.

Section 5 6.  This act shall take effect immediately.

Advocacy Against Judicial Immunity

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