Category Archives: pension fraud

>NJ TREASURY BOTCHES MONMOUTH PROBE; STATE IGNORES $245K PENSION SCAM IMPLICATING LT. GOV. GUADAGNO

>Back on October 19th of last year the website New Jersey Watchdog broke the story about how Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, while acting as Monmouh County Sheriff in 2008, allowed and participated in a scheme allowing a high-ranking Monmouth County Sheriff’s employee to blatantly violate pension laws giving him a full pension and a full County paycheck at the same time.

Now New Jersey Watchdog is reporting that after an investigation into the allegations, the NJ Treasury botched it’s investigation into this troubling story, by ignoring evidence that clearly shows that Michael W. Donovan Jr. was employed as Chief Warrant Officer, which has allowed him to collect $85,000 a year in pension benefits while collecting a county salary of $87,500. To date New Jersey Watchdog says that Donovan owes the County in excess of $245,000 for pension payments that he was not entitled to:

Here is what NJ Watchdog is reporting:

A botched investigation by the New Jersey Treasury is allowing a Monmouth County sheriff’s executive – and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, his former boss – to get away with a double-dipping scam that has cheated a state pension fund out of nearly a quarter-million dollars.

Ignoring evidence to the contrary, state officials concluded Michael W. Donovan Jr. was employed as “chief warrant officer,” according to a letter from Florence J. Shepherd, acting director of the Treasury’s Division of Pension and Benefits.

Records obtained by New Jersey Watchdog clearly show that Donovan was actually the Sheriff’s Chief Officer in charge of law enforcement. That evidence includes:

  • An Aug. 21, 2008 memo written and initialed by then-Sheriff Guadagno, introducing Donovan as the “new Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.”
  • Organization charts for the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, covering the period of Sept. 22, 2008 through Feb. 13, 2011. Each identifies Donovan as the “Chief” in charge of law enforcement.
  • A Sheriff’s Office web page describing Donovan’s duties as “Sheriff’s Chief,” including the department’s day-to-day activities.

While the job titles of sheriff’s chief officer and chief warrant officer sound similar, the difference is defined in state statute. Another difference is the money this charade has cost the state pension system, as first exposed by a New Jersey Watchdog investigation in October 2010.

Listed as chief warrant officer in payroll records, Donovan has been able to collect $85,000 a year in benefits as a retired county investigator, plus an $87,500 annual salary for his job with the sheriff.

Chief warrant officer is considered a temporary position exempt from the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS). In contrast, a sheriff’s chief officer is covered by the PFRS. Under state pension rules, Donovan should have been required to re-enroll in the plan, which would have stopped his retirement checks.

To date, Donovan has improperly received $227,000 in pension payments. In addition, he should have paid $18,000 in contributions to the plan since returning to work in 2008.

On behalf of the PFRS, the Treasury could sue to recover $245,000 from Donovan. But first, the agency would have to face facts that implicate Guadagno – and would likely embarrass the Christie Administration.

The Feb. 11 letter from Acting Director Shepherd was sent in response to an inquiry from Anthony Wieners, president of the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association. Wieners could not be reached for comment.

Three days later, Donovan was given a new job title – plus a raise. As Monmouth County’s new undersheriff in charge of law enforcement with essentially the same responsibilites, he now receives a $90,125 annual salary – plus nearly $86,000 a year in state pension checks.

With all that is going on today about how public employees are bankrupting states with their generous health and pension benefits, it’s nice to know that Governor Christie can look the other way when it involves one of his own from the Monmouth County “Good ol’ Boy” network.
Based on what NJ Watchdog has uncovered, I think it is time for Christie to intervene by firing Michael Donovan as Chief Warrant Officer for Monmouth County and asking his Lt. Governorr for some straight answers before asking for Guadagno’s resignation.

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Filed under Chief Warrent Officer, Gov. Chris Christie, Kim Guadagono, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Sheriff, New Jersey Watchdog, pension fraud

>PENSION SCANDAL IN THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Acting Sheriff Golden Promotes Pension Fraud By Head Of Law Enforcement Division

>FOR IMMIDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2010
Press Contact: Jon Evans (732) 739 8888

Hazlet, NJ – This week, New Jersey Watchdog.org broke news casting another ominous cloud over the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. The information, which has been verified, shows that in 2008, the previous Republican Sheriff allowed and participated in a scheme allowing a high-ranking Monmouth County Sheriff’s employee to blatantly violate pension laws giving him a full pension and a full County paycheck at the same time. Despite his knowledge of this fraudulent act, acting-Sheriff Golden continues to employ this person under the same arrangement.

Specifically, Monmouth County acting-Sheriff Shaun Golden has authorized Sheriff’s Chief Mickey Donovan to sidestep pension rules allowing him to collect more than $85,000 a year in retirement pay while at the same time still making an annual County salary of $87,500 for a total in excess of $172,000.00 per year. This “double-dipping” scheme is in violation of the New Jersey Police and Firemen’s Retirement System rules and regulations.

In May 2005, Donovan retired as a detective lieutenant from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and began collecting his annual $85,000 pension. In an August 21, 2008, memo it was announced, by then-Sheriff Kim Guadagno, that Donovan would be hired as the “new Chief of the Law Enforcement Division”. However, in order to avoid having to give back a pension, his title was changed and Donovan was hired and sworn in as “Chief Warrant Officer” on September 22, 2008. Although Donovan was hired as “Chief Warrant Officer,” permitting circumvention of the pension rules, in actuality, the position of “Chief Warrant Officer” was eliminated on September 16, 2008- a week before Donovan was hired to the fictitious position- under Sheriff’s General Order 98-20 setting forth the organizational structure of the Sheriff’s Office. As a result, Donovan was hired and continues to occupy a position that does not exist in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. Clearly, this scheme was concocted so that Donovan could continue to double dip at taxpayers’ expense. Donovan continues to be listed on the County’s web page as “Monmouth County Sheriff’s Chief” and is described as “the Chief of the Law Enforcement Division of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office” and not as “Chief Warrants Officer.” On July 6, 2010, acting-Sheriff Golden signed an amendment to the organizational structure of the Law Enforcement Division, yet did not include the position of “Chief Warrant Officer” and there is currently no such position within the organizational structure of the Sheriff’s Office.

Democratic Sheriff Candidate Eric Brophy responded to the ongoing situation, “This continuing fraud cast upon the taxpayers of Monmouth County by sworn officers of the law is the most egregious example yet of Golden’s complete and utter mismanagement of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. His complete disregard for the taxpayers of Monmouth County or for the laws and rules of this State is appalling. Someone who is charged as the Chief Executive Officer of a 600 person police agency must know the status and job titles of his division heads. If he doesn’t, then he has no business running such an operation. If he does know but disregards these acts, he is complicit in perpetuating this fraud and can no longer be trusted to hold the position. Monmouth County needs a Sheriff who will be responsible with taxpayer dollars and who not only talks about pension reform, but who actually ends abuses of the system. ”

For more details as well as evidence of all facts cited herein, visit New Jersey Watchdog Online at http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2010/10/19/1286/

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Filed under Eric Brophy, Monmouth County Sheriff, pension fraud, press release, Shaun Golden