Not an Honorary Pension

Participating in several generations of dishonorable conduct strikes me as a pretty substantial harm to the public good when done by a police officer. If only to send a signal, “retired” Captain John Ryan, formerly of the Providence PD, ought to lose his pension:

City officials have resumed their effort to take away the pension of retired police Capt. John J. Ryan, one of three former high-ranking police officers implicated in the Police Department’s cheating-for-promotions scandal.
But Ryan has gone to Superior Court in an effort to stave off the threat, which arises from a scandal that dates to the mid- to late-1990s. …
New charges have now been added to the city’s bill of particulars against Ryan: That he accepted favors from Richard “Uncle Dickie” Autiello while Autiello’s Four A’s auto sales and repair business had contracts with the Police Department that Ryan supervised. Ryan, the city alleges, received free or underpriced vehicles and vehicle repairs from Autiello as well as other gifts. …
The cheating, which has been admitted in various forums, consisted of the surreptitious distribution to favored officers of so-called source sheets that drastically limited what they had to study for their written promotional examinations. By knowing where to focus their study, according to city officials, those officers enjoyed a significant advantage over their competitors. …
At issue is a municipal ordinance that requires honorary service as a prerequisite for an employee to receive a pension. A lack of such service calls for the reduction or revocation of a pension, according to the interpretation of Mayor David N. Cicilline, city lawyers and members of the Retirement Board, who instigated the pension-divestiture cases.
Ryan contends in his lawsuit that his pension cannot be touched, under the ordinance, unless he is convicted of a job-related crime. He has never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted.

It seems to me that a deal promising a 47-year-old man, able to work as “a law enforcement consultant and lawyer,” $28,056 every year for the rest of his life justifies a pretty high ethical bar. Furthermore, losing that million-dollar benefit should be a very strong incentive against future corruption.

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Monique
Editor
12 years ago

“New charges have now been added to the city’s bill of particulars against Ryan”
How about we take all those particulars and get a criminal indictment, possibly followed by a conviction? I agree with Justin that the captain does not deserve a pension. But as long as the letter of the law calls for a criminal conviction before a public employee can lose a pension, it sounds like you could pile new information a mile high in front of the Pension Board and it would be to zero effect.
What a bad combination, by the way. A law that requires a criminal conviction to lose a pension and an Attorney General with absolutely no inclination to obtain a conviction against public servants gone bad. (Not even if one hundred people died. Or one person died while waiting for an ambulance that was repeatedly promised but never dispatched.)

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
12 years ago

Monique-remember there is a statute of limitations-it may have run by now-unless it’s for a capital offense or sexual assault,the general rule is 5 years to indict or charge by information

brassband
brassband
12 years ago

The statute of limitations for most state crimes in Rhode Island is three years, although there are some offenses involving fraud or public corruption for which the limitation period is ten years.
For very serious offenses (murder, sexual assault, etc.) there is no statute of limitations.
When these pension revocation laws were enacted, the idea was that it made sense to establish some “bright-line” test for determining when a pension could be revoked. Conviction of a crime may seem like a fairly high hurdle to cross in order to revoke someone’s pension, but it would be dangerous to give local or state pension boards unfettered discretion in such matters. Think of the shenanigans that an unscrupulous mayor or governor might pull if he or she had the power to tinker with an employee’s pension.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
12 years ago

Thanks again,Brass-you’re bringing me up to speed on two blogs now-I always like to be accurate so I appreciate it-I was probably thinking of Federal laws for other than capital crimes or national security crimes(which I guess are actually capital crimes)-great point you made there on the high bar for pension revocation-couldn’t you just see lives ruined by personal motivation?Think David Cicilline-as nasty and vindictive a little pr*ck as ever lived.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

So instead we’re stuck with “nuthin’s wrong that you can get away with”?
I’d say that the line is sufficiently bright where proceedings similar to those in a court of law would find dishonorable actions that tangibly harm the public. Public sector corruption and above-the-law status is one of the terminal diseases killing the state. If public sector workers are going to have union backing, then there’s got to be a counterbalance; in other words, if there’s going to be union pressure in play, let that be the protection against unscrupulous elected officials.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
12 years ago

Okay-if someone is doing a substandard job,fire them.But to go after a pension years after alleged misconduct is not the way to do it.I have no brief for Capt.Ryan-he should’ve been dealt with while still employed,because then he could have been terminated for misconduct if sufficient cause were found.It’s just a little late in the game now.

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