UPDATE February 14, 2015: The Bill failed to pass in December and is in “Session Sine Die” or adjourned for an indefinite period.
A new bill currently making its way through the General Assembly could make it a lot easier for the Bolingbrook Police Pension Board to take away the pension of convicted murderer, Drew Peterson.
Proposed Illinois House Bill 5816 would let pension boards consider some new criteria with regards to dispersal of pension benefits. The bill which was introduced last month would let boards consider official misconduct and felony convictions grounds for forfeiture.
“It says if you have been convicted or pleaded guilty to corruption charges, then the board can withhold your pension,” said 41st District Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, the bill’s sponsor.
But, more pertinent to the Drew Peterson situation, the bill would also make a felony grounds for possible forfeiture, stating:
..if a member or participant of a pension fund or retirement system established under the Code is receiving an annuity or pension from a pension fund or retirement system established under the Code and is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, a felony…then the board of trustees of that fund or system shall suspend the payment of that annuity or pension during that individual’s incarceration for that offense.
In Peterson’s case, that would be 38 years.
The Naperville Sun reports that Senger’s motivation for the bill arose from the current Drew Peterson situation. The Bolingbrook board voted last week to hold hearings to decide whether they should put an end to Peterson’s benefits, something that may be difficult to do under current law which is protective of civil employees.
There is another part to the proposed legislation, however, that could allow Peterson to continue collecting his annual $79k payout. It would allow pension boards leeway when the beneficiary of the pension is a child. That part of the bill has not yet gone to a vote.
Currently, Peterson’s adult son, Stephen, is receiving his father’s pension benefits and has custodial care of his father’s two minor children. Their mother is Stacy Peterson who has been missing since October 2007. Drew Peterson is the only named suspect in connection to her disappearance and Stephen lost his job when he failed to tell his superiors about accepting guns and money from his father immediately after Stacy went missing.
Peterson’s attorneys have filed an appeal of his murder conviction and it is expected to be argued in appellate court some time in the Fall of this year.
Also, in “this is starting to feel like a prolonged case of déjà vu” news, the Illinois Supreme Court has denied Stephen Peterson’s request to appeal the Appellate Court decision that upheld the Village of Oak Brook’s decision to terminate him from his position with the Police Department.
I guess he’ll have to seek solace by buying more Blackhawks tickets with his dad’s pension benefits…
From the March Illinois Supreme Court Docket:
117194 Stephen Peterson, petitioner, v. Village of Oak Brook, etc., et al., respondents.
Leave to appeal, Appellate Court, Second District.