For crime, punishment other than loss...

For crime, punishment other than loss of pension

There are 9 comments on the Newsday story from May 25, 2008, titled For crime, punishment other than loss of pension. In it, Newsday reports that:

Frank Anechiarico is professor of government and law at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. May 25, 2008 In some states other than New York , Frank Tassone, the former Roslyn schools superintendent who is serving ...

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Newsday.

take it away

United States

#1 May 25, 2008
cover for one another huh you dirty swine. what are you up to? plenty i'll bet. lost of pension is only the start of what you and that bum deserve!
You MUST be kidding

Highland, NY

#2 May 25, 2008
Let me get this straight, if someone blatantly commits a crime, such as stealing MONEY from a school district in the amount of 2 million dollars, the same money he was entrusted to run, is convited of the crime there should still be a STATE PENSION?

You my sir, are the very reason we are in this MESS. It is no wonder you are a professor in Government, if you are teaching this logic then we should expect MORE corrupt, unethical, immoral officials coming up the ranks.

If any of your students run for office, please let us know so WE know who NOT to vote for.
Get It Straight

Norwalk, CT

#3 May 25, 2008
"...a small lapse in an otherwise exemplary career"?
I sincerely hope the author isn't saying this is what happened in Tassone's case! This man was conniving for MANY years to collect his stolen fortune, this was NO small lapse!

I'm sure everyone is going to jump down this guy's throat for his opinion on NOT taking away someone's pension if they commit a crime against society.

But let me say a few things here. First, I absolutely don't believe people like Tassone should be collecting their pension while in jail. Since the law allows it right now in NY, there isn't much we can do about it. But at the very least, I would think the pensions should be put on hold while the criminal (no he's not a victim as the author says) is serving time in jail.

Beyond that, I like the idea that Maryland and Rhode Island have been using, a pension review board. Look at each case individually. Possibly reduce the pension to what it would have been BEFORE the criminal started his "crime". I would think, other than totally losing the whole pension, that this idea would help stop a few potential criminals. Not that I think the criminal deserves the money after the fact - he may be very deserving of it before he commited the crime, not necessarily after. That would have to be decided by the review board.

The other thing to think about is the family of the criminal. Usually the wife and kids know nothing of what their husband/father was up to. They are counting on having that pension for their own retirement years, well, the wife anyway. Perhaps the review board could consider giving the bulk of the pension to the wife!

Just some thoughts. No need to jump down my throat for thinking out loud! Is this a system that might be workable? What do you all think, logically, not from anger about the situation.
Matthew Searing

Brooklyn, NY

#4 May 25, 2008
Leave it to a lawyer. I am assuming that this law professor is a lawyer. Where do I start?

Penalizing someone for "what is usually a small lapse in an otherwise exemplary career" seems a good place. So, in case I suddenly decide to steal (or whatever felony is an appropriate violation of the public trust which I hold) I should be held to a different punitive standard? Mr. Tassone had no prior criminal record and the court found it appropriate to imprison him - based on the seriousness of the crime and the violation of the public trust.

Or, how about, "the wrong kind of deterrent, one that keeps well-qualified candidates away from the public sector"? Again, on the off chance that I may suddenly commit a felony one day, I better be sure to do that in the private sector so I don't get my pension taken away? If that is on your mind, public service of any sort might not be a good plan for you. Oh yes, if I am not mistaken (and I am not a lawyer so I could easily be wrong about the legalese mumbo jumbo that they use to defend this kind of thing), the court could tap into a person's private pension for payment of restitution to victims. Property is property.

Oh wait, how about the child molestation leap, not equating the crimes but the comparison of calling for a complete overhaul in the justice system regarding the rights of the accused and the rightful sanctioning of an individual by that system where one MAY be deprived of property WITH due process - the professor may have missed that the criminal trial IS due process - we need another trial to take away your pension? So the call for abandoning the presumption of innocence is inflammatory? Isn't the whole example, professor?

Matthew Searing
San Diego resident

Coronado, CA

#5 May 25, 2008
The professor has it all wrong.

The "due process" is in place now, with the requirement that the accused be tried and convicted in a court of law. The proposed pension stripping just ups the penalty -- it does not change the rules of evidence, or the assumption of "innocent until proven guilty."

Pension stripping is an ideal punishment. It's restitution to the people harmed -- the taxpayers.

Incarceration COSTS the taxpayers #25-$40K a year. Pension stripping SAVES taxpayers $5K-$200K a year -- for many more years than the time in jail.

Rather than a fixed fine, pension stripping adjusts to fit the magnitude of responsibility of the criminal. Lower level government employees who commit felonies on the job lose smaller pensions. Big-time government criminals with have greater responsibilities and opportunities for profit who commit felonies receive a commensurate fine by losing a larger pension.

Now, if we can just get around to dealing with the inherently criminal nature of exorbitant government pensions in general, we'll REALLY make some progress!

Since: Mar 07

Location hidden

#6 May 25, 2008
Matthew Searing wrote:
Leave it to a lawyer. I am assuming that this law professor is a lawyer.
This is exactly what I was thinking! Lawyers need to find more slimy ways to make money so no surprise here.

On that note, this article doesn't surprise me one bit. In todays sick world we reward criminals for their behavior.

It's like if a burglar breaks into your home and hurts himself he can sue you for damages. So basically we say "You didn't win the grand prize but look at the consolation prize we have here for you behind curtain #2."


#7 May 25, 2008
This is a pretty courageous Op-Ed to write in view of the climate about pensions of late.

I know one fellow who was tried twice by the federal government and was acquitted twice. That is nigh imposssible, but he lost his PD pension anyway.

I know of a cop who walked into a trailer to settle a dispute of his wife buying defective tires and said to the guy why are you working here (The Gold Bug/Brooklyn DA Inv) you could get in trouble. For all you know your phones could be tapped. The cop didn't have a clue. Do you think the cop would have said that in the phone tapped and trailer bugged place? He lost his pension for divulging a wiretap.

Another poor soul with 30 years of exemplary service got into a private dispute with a civilian. He was off duty. He had good reason to be engaged with this woman, but the jury didn't see it that way. He lost his pension. For what.

One of the reasons I finally resigned from the NYPD after 29 years is I couldn't control what others will do and I would find myself in the middle of something I had nothing to do with. Other than my possible knowledge of wrongdoing of others, or the NYPD believing I knew, I could lose my pension with the stroke of a pen. I found myself in such a predicament and I said enough, there is too much to lose. In the NYPD there is no guarantee of getting your pension if you are found guilty of wrongdoing. Even if you should bring it to court and prevail you will spend a small forturne in legal fees.

The very fine author of this piece is right on the money.
Unhappy Taxpayor

Brooklyn, NY

#8 May 28, 2008
Mr. Anechiarico, Are you serious? "Pension stripping threatens to penalize someone's long-term earnings for what is usually a small lapse in an otherwise exemplary career. This is fundamentally unfair." You sir, are an idiot if you call what Frank Tassone and the others in Roslyn did a "small lapse". What they did was a planned out and systematic theft over a long period of time from the very people who employed them and funded their pension. This was no "small lapse". What is fundamentally unfair is the people of Roslyn and the State of New York having to support these thieves with a pension and fully paid health benefits for the rest of their lives! You say the punishment would not fit the crime. I say strip the pensions and benefits away from them. THEY HAD A CHOICE !!! They CHOSE to steal the money!! They knew stealing is wrong, but chose to do it anyway. Thinking like yours is the reason we have these problems.
Jeffrey Hewitt

Buford, GA

#9 May 29, 2008
Makes me glad I don't live in New York anymore. Pension checks to a convicted conartist? Jeff Hewitt, Hamilton ' 74

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