State Probes Potential Pension Problems In Scranton

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SCRANTON -- Officials from Harrisburg and the state police are looking into Scranton's pension system.

The issue is whether some former city employees received retirement incentives that they should not have.

A retirement incentive handed out to city employees in 2002 may have gone to more people than it was supposed to, potentially costing Scranton's pension fund hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The state police are looking into it and so is the state auditor general.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has spent a lot of time looking at Scranton's books. Last year, an audit by his office revealed that Scranton's pension fund is one of the most underfunded in the state.

DePasquale was set to talk with city officials about just that at the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce but instead used the time to announce another emergency audit.

'I'm ordering my team to go back in time and to begin to unearth whatever we can to find out what happened in 2002 to see if we can shed more light," DePasquale said.

At issue is a 2002 retirement incentive offered to city hall clerical workers with at least 25 years of service. The Scranton pension board has learned that six of the retirees who received the incentive may not have actually qualified for it.

That means those six people may have been receiving double pensions, draining the struggling pension fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past 12 years.

"If it did happen, it's unacceptable and it's outrageous. It's doubly outrageous here because Scranton's situation is so much more precarious," DePasquale said.

DePasquale's audit joins an ongoing state police investigation though we don't know yet if the six double pensions were given out by mistake or intentionally.

City officials at the meeting aren't sure yet if the extra money paid out should be paid back to the city's pension fund.

"I don't know how to answer that because I don't know what they're going to find or how they are going to find it, or how it even happened. As the auditor general just said, there are no records back that far so I think we need to wait and see what his investigation brings out, but again, you've got the state police, the auditor general, and the pension board. As soon as they have their findings, we're going to cooperate with them fully," said Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright.

A lawyer for the Scranton pension board asked the state police to open up its investigation. The state auditor general says his office will be back on Friday to begin the audit

11 comments

  • Lynn ODay

    Its about time someone looked into it. Kudos to whoever had the balls to step up. We need to start weeding out the trouble and get us on the right track again.

  • My Dog Is Smarter Than You

    Props for the pension board solicitor, Larry Durkin. Seems like he dropped dime after taking over as solicitor and uncovered impropriety. I hope nobody involved “gets to him” and he stays focused on finding answers.

  • Ford

    Lost of Hope not Self Esteem; This is just another case that drives the hard working people of PA into an “I give up” state of mind. It is very hard to stay positive when (almost) everyone that is supposed to be helping PA, is in it for the wrong reasons. This runs right from our local government offices right up on through to the President.

  • HENRY ROWENGARTNER

    Haha… Shocker!! LoL! And even if those people did double dip, do you think you are ever going to get it back!! GOOD LUCK!!!

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