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Tragic Solutions was featured later that year in an Associated Press story on businesses that clean up crimes scenes. It included a photo of Carroll and Rohling posing in biohazard protection suits they wore on the job. The AP article mentioned they were retired cops, but nothing about their disability pensions.
After the PFRS board learned of Tragic Solutions, it could not halt Carroll’s disability benefits, currently $25,284 a year plus health coverage.
“In the performance of your job responsibilities with Tragic Solutions, you are exposed to crime scenes similar to those you were subjected to during your employment with Morris County as a crime scene investigator and upon which you were found disabled,” a state official scolded Carroll in a 2005 letter.
“Although there will be no action taken at this time, the facts surrounding your post-retirement employment with Tragic Solutions will become part of your pension membership file,” the correspondence concluded.
The law prevented PFRS from doing anything more. Under pension rules, there is a five-year limit on the state’s right to re-examine disability retirees to determine if they are able to return to work. Time had run out on the Carroll case.
PFRS then turned its focus to Carroll’s partner in crime scenes, Thomas Rohling.
The PFRS board had approved Rohling’s disability retirement in 2003. Rohling claimed he was “totally and permanently” disabled from injuries caused when a window valance fell on him in a Morris County courtroom.
Despite conflicting reports from doctors on whether he could return to work, the PFRS board had ruled in Rohling’s favor.
Not only that, but the board had granted Rohling an “accidental disability” retirement—a more generous type of pension granted to law enforcement officers whose injuries are determined to be the result of line-of-duty accidents.
As a result, Rohling currently collects $65,904 a year, tax-free.
With knowledge of his role at Tragic Solutions, the PFRS board voted in 2006 to end Rohling’s disability retirement.
“If you’re totally and permanently disabled, in my honest opinion, you shouldn’t be able to work anymore,” Sierchio said.
Rohling appealed. In 2009, an administrative law judge overturned the PFRS board’s decision. Weighing conflicting testimony from doctors, the judge ruled that Rohling still qualified for disability—despite his employment with Tragic Solutions.
Both Carroll and Rohling will draw disability pensions for the rest of their lives.
So far, Rohling has received $582,000 in accidental disability pay—a figure that would grow to $2 million by his 70th birthday. Carroll has collected $310,000 in “ordinary disability” checks. At age 73, he should hit the $1 million mark.