Blogging Employee Benefits

March 6, 2006

Convicted MA Clerk-Magistrate Loses Pension

Filed under: Litigation, PERS — Fuguerre @ 3:54 pm

At the heart of a clerk-magistrate’s role is the unwavering obligation to tell the truth, to ensure that others do the same through the giving of oaths to complainants, and to promote the administration of justice.

AP reports that Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that 67-year-old John Bulger, a retired clerk-magistrate of the Boston Juvenile Court and brother of fugitive mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, must forfeit his public employee’s pension of $65,000 per year. John Bulger had previously pled guilty to two counts of perjury and two counts of obstruction of justice relating to false testimony given to a grand jury that had been investigating alleged money laundering, racketeering, and other criminal offenses committed by Whitey Bulger and others. Finding John Bulger’s convictions to involve violations of the law applicable to his office or position, the state’s highest court reversed a Boston Municipal Court judgment, ruling that Bulger must forfeit his pension. [Boston Globe]

The court did dispute the retirement board’s contention that the judgment should take into consideration that had the convictions come while Bulger was still in office, he would have been removed from office. The court found that analysis too broad, failing to recognize that standards for removal from office and forfeiture of pension were different.

Nonetheless, stating that “at stake is the integrity of our judicial system,” the court found that the nature of Bulger’s offenses would not be separated from the nature of a clerk-magistrate’s particular office, thereby requiring forfeiture of his pension. [State Board of Retirement v. John P. Bulger, SJC-09494]

The state’s retirement board is said to be considering action to recover past pension payments, net of Bulger’s own member contributions.

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