NJ Watchdog reporter Mark Lagerkvist has uncovered yet another case of pension abuse by a double-dipping member of the NJ State Assembly.
This time the person in question is Republican Minority Whip Assemblyman Dave Rible, who is currently running seeking reelection in the newly formed 30th Legislative District.
Assemblyman David P. Rible retired as a Wall Township police officer at age 31 with a bad back and a fat pension. He’s collected $650,000 in disability payments since a state board decided he was “totally and permanently disabled.”
Yet Rible competes in five-mile and five-kilometer runs along the Jersey Shore. He exercises at a gym, dances as a celebrity and hauls trash to the curb at his Monmouth County home, according to a New Jersey Watchdog investigation first published in June 2010.
Rible commutes to Trenton to represent the 11th District in the State Assembly, where he holds a leadership position as Republican Whip and seeks publicity as a tax-fighter. Now, he’s seeking election to the revamped 30th District, where he hopes voters in Monmouth and Ocean counties have forgotten the negative publicity.
Now 44, Rible is set for life. If he lives until 80, he will pocket another $2.5 million from the state pension fund. That would raise Rible’s jackpot above $3 million, not including cost-of-living hikes or his medical coverage.
“I do oppose government waste, but I don’t see this as government waste,” said Rible, leaving his health club after a workout. “This is something that has been set forth in the rules of the pension.”
Those rules can be costly. Lottery-sized payouts threaten to break the back of New Jersey’s retirement and benefits system for public workers, struggling under the weight of $110 billion in projected debt. The state pension plans are short $46 billion, according to the most recent audit – plus retiree health benefits are underfunded by $64 billion.
A New Jersey Watchdog investigation of Rible’s case revealed how wasteful that system can be.
In his statement to the pension board, Rible said he and two other township detectives responded to an early morning noise complaint at a gravel pit. On foot, the officers pursued three men suspected of igniting fireworks and drinking alcohol. Rible stated he fell from an embankment during the chase and hurt his lower back.
Nearly four weeks later, Rible went to the police department’s physician with complaints of back pain. Eventually, in January 1998, he had back surgery.
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