Bob Mellow was one of the longest-serving state senators in Pennsylvania history and was entitled to one of the largest pensions.
Friday afternoon, a state board ruled Mellow must forfeit his generous monthly pension because he pleaded guilty to corruption last month.
Bob Mellow was elected to the Pennsylvania senate in 1970 and became one of the state’s most powerful politicians. He served as the senate democratic leader until his retirement last year.
With his retirement came a more than $11,000 monthly pension, but the State Employees Retirement System has now ruled Mellow will forfeit that pension, effective May 9, when he pleaded guilty to corruption, admitting to using his state employees for personal and political business on the taxpayer dime between 2006 and 2010.
The decision is being applauded by good government groups.
Eric Epstein with http://www.rockthecapital.com said, “To issue a decision otherwise would be to incentivize corruption. This sends a message to legislators that crime does not pay.”
“If a person admits guilt, I think they immediately trigger forfeiture, certainly at a minimum any public contribution to the pension,” said Barry Kauffman with Common Cause/Pennsylvania.
Other taxpayers agreed with the decision to revoke Mellow’s pension.
“It`s our tax dollars that are paying for it, so he abused his power, and this is one of the consequences. So I think it`s a good thing,” said Carl Boos of Exeter.
At Mellow Park in Peckville, just one of the many places in Lackawanna County named for the former senator, some of the people Mellow served said he did a lot of good, but should face consequences for committing crimes.
“The punishment fits the crime,” said David Strumsky of Jessup. “He`s been great for this region, and all the positives that he`s done, you have to take that into consideration, but we have to learn to trust our elected officials.”
“It`s a tough bull to bite, but when you do wrong, you should pay for your mistake,” added Joseph Kiefer of Dunmore. “I`m proud of Mr. Mellow, even if he did make a few mistakes in the end.”
Mellow is just one of six legislative leaders to have pleaded guilty or been convicted of corruption in the last two years.
“If you’re doing things in violation of the public interest, you may have a very high personal price to pay, so that’s an incentive to do the right thing,” added Kauffman.
The state ruled Mellow will receive one last payment of funds he contributed to the pension system, minus debts, fines and restitution he has to pay.
In addition to his pension forfeiture, the state ruled that neither Mellow nor his family members will be entitled to any death benefits.
Bob Mellow is scheduled to be sentenced in August.