Thursday, January 31, 2013
How NJ Cops 'Clean Up' on Disability Pensions
For Immediate Release:
TAXPAYER TRAUMA! HOW NJ COPS 'CLEAN UP' ON DISABILITY PENSIONS
Timothy Carroll retired at age 33. He claimed he was "totally and permanently" disabled by the trauma of seeing dead bodies while working as a sheriff's officer in Morris County, New Jersey.
The real shock is Carroll then started a business that cleans up gory crime scenes, a New Jersey Watchdog investigation found. Yet the state continues to pay him a disability pension for life, a sum that could total $1 million or more.
Carroll's company – Tragic Solutions LLC, of Linden – specializes in removing human residue from "bloody and/or messy" scenes, including "murder, suicide, accidental, natural and decomposing deaths," according to its web site.
"This says there is a problem with the whole pension system, the way the whole system is set up," said John Sierchio, a trustee of the state Police and Firemen's Retirement System. PFRS paid out $175 million to 5,067 disabled retirees in 2011 – figures expected to rise when 2012 data are released.
The supposedly career-ending incidents have included a fireman who fell out of bed while sleeping, an officer who fell off his chair while sitting down, cops who slipped on wet floors or icy sidewalks, and a patrolman who suffered emotional trauma because his lieutenant yelled at him during roll call.
In New Jersey, it's relatively easy to fake or exaggerate an injury to get a disability pension. The PFRS has no staff to investigate fraud. Nor do any of the state's five other retirement funds for public employees. The Tragic Solutions case illustrates how weak laws, red tape and lack of enforcement contribute to the woes of a state pension system that faces a shortfall of nearly $42 billion.
The complete story is now online at http://newjersey.watchdog.org. The story is also scheduled to air during tonight's 11 p.m. newscast on NBC 4 New York, which produced its story in cooperation with New Jersey Watchdog.