(HARRISBURG, Pa.) — Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky will likely receive his $58,898-a-year state pension while in prison, unless a bill stalled in Pennsylvania’s senate finance committee is quickly passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
The bill would prevent employees convicted of sexual offenses related to their jobs from receiving their state pensions, said Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for State Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, who introduced the bill before Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing boys in his Second Mile program.
“This was introduced on Oct. 18, 2011, well before Sandusky’s crimes came to light,” Kline said. “It’s something we think would be very appropriate for a case such as this. Now that it’s over, we’re a little concerned, confused and angry it’s still stuck there. Apparently it’s not a priority, so the legislation still stays in committee.”
Kline said passing the bill at this point would “be a tall order” given the process and the fact there are only a few sessions left in the senate.
Under current law, the pensions of public employees can be seized when a member is convicted of an Act 140 crime. That act includes crimes such as extortion, perjury and bribery but does not include sexual abuse, according to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System website.
Pam Phile, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, said she could not speculate on whether Sandusky will have to forfeit his pension under the existing law, which was passed in 1978.
“SERS reviews the sentencing documents in reaching a forfeiture determination and there has been no sentencing yet in this particular case,” Phile said.
Kline said there are potentially other ways Sandusky could be stripped of his pension, but said passing a law at the state level would probably be the most logical.
“There could be things at the Penn State level,” he said. “[But] I really think it has to be a state law issue. This is the only thing that is at the ready to move. To my knowledge this is the best option.”
Sandusky is expected to be sentenced in approximately 90 days. The former Penn State assistant football coach was found guilty in a Bellefonte, Penn., courtroom on 45 counts related to the sexual abuse of young boys.
He faces a maximum sentence of 442 years in prison.
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