School Closings And Delays

Bob Mellow’s State Pension Restored

SCRANTON -- A former state senator who pleaded guilty to federal charges is getting his pension back.

Five years ago, Bob Mellow pleaded guilty to federal crimes. He did prison time and lost his state pension.

But the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System has reversed course, restoring his pension.

Mellow and his ex-wife will split a $20,000 a month payment.

They will also divvy up a $1.3 million back payment on former Senator Mellow's pension.

"I'm the only person in the state who has ever got their pension reinstated," Mellow said.

Bob Mellow won a battle that lasted five and a half years to get back what he felt was rightfully his -- a $20,000 a month pension that he says he earned paying 18 percent of his salary into the state pension fund for four decades as he represented Lackawanna County in Harrisburg.

"I worked very hard in the 40 years I was in the Senate," Mellow said.

But just after his final term in office wrapped up, so did a federal investigation, and in May 2012, Mellow pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

That same month, the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) stripped him of his pension.

For five and a half years, the former senator and his lawyers have argued that the crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2012 are not the same crimes for which the state of Pennsylvania can legally take away his pension.

This week, the SERS pension board agreed as a hearing examiner found that since Mellow didn't make money from the federal crime he pleaded to, he should not have had his pension taken away.

Now mellow and his ex-wife will split $20,000 a month, plus the $1.3 million that was withheld the last five and a half years.

Many who Mellow represented cannot believe the ruling.

"I just don't understand that, he committed a crime, he went to jail for it, and he's still going to get all that money? Wow!" said Throop resident Joe Malone.

"It's ridiculous, honestly," said Renita Stewart Joyce

"Absolutely not," added Norma Stewart. "I don't think that's fair at all."

"No matter how I try to reason or rationalize with you, they will never understand," Mellow responded.  "They would be against it, and that would be the way it is, and that's life and I do understand that."

The former state senator says the pension board decision is as much a victory for the rule of law as it is for him and the woman he married just after he got out of prison.

"My wife and I have both felt that what we've gone through for so many years, that I had some vindication."

Bob Mellow admits the restoration of his pension makes him financially secure.

Despite that, the former state senator says he has no desire to return to politics, either as a candidate or a consultant.

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20 comments

  • sick of fake news

    No wonder the state is in financial trouble. $20K a MONTH not to work?!!! Is that what these politicians decided to pay themselves? That’s nearly a quarter of a $1 million a year to not work. NO WAY any of these idiots deserves that–whether they’re dem or republican, law-abiding or under indictment. TWENTY-THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH IS EXCESSIVE AND UNREASONABLE for anyone paid by the taxpayers many of whom don’t make that much in an entire YEAR working full-time.

  • Jeff Woehrle

    This comes on the heels of democrats trying to salvage their reputation among women by purging alleged sexual predators from their ranks.

    This action with Mellow sends a clear message about Pennsylvania: The democrats here take care of their own.

  • cheap tightwad

    If he paid into it the money is his. Private pensions were 10 Years to vest, not the 5 years of now. So if you had 3 employers in 30 years, you could have received a nice pension or none depending on when you changed jobs. If you give a plan an excuse not to pay they will take it.

    • Tim

      It’s ten years at penndot to be vested for pension.This shows how corrupt the unions in this state are .Anyone else that commited a federal Crime would only get back what they paid in and nothing more. The unions run the pension system not the state

      • Brian King

        @Tim
        what do unions have to do with this?
        That’s right, absolutely nothing.
        Politicians aren’t in a union

      • cheap tightwad

        You may be right, a multi employer plan would have lower premiums to insure the plan. Combining the Senate plan with union plans. It would be an easy sell to a state. To keep it solvent they just raise funds through taxation.

    • Dylan

      A criminal conviction for corrutption while in Public office is a completely valid reason to lose his pension. This should be a consequence, and an automatic one, for ALL of those in public service who are convicted of crimes.

  • SMDH

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand he DID pay in 18% of his salary to the fund and for that there is no basis to take the money from him—it was rightfully his and not the “state’s money” that was contributed, but I would also argue that it was his corruption that kept him in office all of those years and the people of the Mid Valley who continued to vote this crook in term after term have some responsibility too. I agree with many of the comments we’ve seen on other stories and the ones below—there is no shortage of political corruption in NEPA and Bob Mellow was one of the most prolific of the crooked politicians.