For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - Governor LePage today signed into law a bill that would give courts the discretion to order the forfeiture of retirement benefits for a state employee convicted of a crime committed in connection with his or her public office.
The bill, LD 1831, was sponsored by State Rep. Les Fossel (R-Alna) to bring Maine in line with more than 15 other states that currently have pension forfeiture laws on their books.
The new law, once it takes effect, will apply to all members of the gubernatorial retirement system, the legislative retirement system and the judicial retirement system as well as all other plans administered by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MainePERS).
'The court would have discretion to make the final decision based on the facts of the crime itself," Rep. Fossel said. "If it is egregious, the court would have the authority to order a forfeiture of the pension."
The statute will allow the court to award the pension to the spouse, dependent or former spouse of the convicted employee. In the event of a pension forfeiture, the employee's accumulated contributions to the retirement system are refundable and are available to satisfy a child support obligation that is otherwise enforceable by garnishment, attachment or other means.
"My bill addresses crimes rated as Class C or greater, which bring incarceration of at least five years," Rep. Fossel said. "Any public officer or employee found guilty of a job-related crime at that level could lose their pension, depending on the judgment of the court.
Under Maine criminal law, all crimes other than murder are designated as Class A, B, C, D or E. Because of the maximum terms of incarceration that they carry, Class D and E crimes are commonly referred to as misdemeanors, while Class A, B and C are referred to as felonies.
MainePERS will be required to provide information concerning the member's status that the court considers relevant in making a decision. ###
Maine House Republicans
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