Corruption

Los Angeles Inspector Convicted of Bribery Keeps $72,000 Pension

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Why is this man smiling? Because he's set for life, even after a prison stay.
City of Los Angeles

Why should taking money on the side deny a public employee a taxpayer-subsidized retirement? It won't in Los Angeles, at least for now. Samuel In, a Los Angeles building inspector, was convicted and sent to prison for two and a half years for taking bribes. But he will keep his $72,000 annual pension. As the Los Angeles Times notes, this is because of city regulations:

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure requiring public employees convicted of a felony to give up retirement benefits earned during the period when their crimes were committed.

But the forfeiture requirement doesn't apply to Los Angeles because it is governed by the City Council under a voter-approved charter, and the City Council manages its own pension systems.

I think that state rule regarding convicted public employees is just about the only part of Brown's modest pension reforms that is not being challenged by unions.

The Times mentions that councilmember Mitchell Englander would support legislation forcing Los Angeles employees to give up their pensions if they're convicted of felony corruption crimes. In's attorney countered that his client had "earned" his pension through his years of service to the city.

That's another good argument for shifting public employees out of pensions and into 401(k)-style defined contribution programs. As it stands, taxpayers are on the hook to make up the difference when In's pension doesn't perform as guaranteed. In a defined contribution program, the taxpayers' obligations to In are frontloaded in the city's contributions while he is still employed. Once In (or any other worker) is no longer a city employee, these obligations end. In a sense, both sides "win." In gets to keep what he's earned, regardless of his crimes, but the taxpayers are not on the hook for any additional money for his retirement.

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  1. But he will keep his $72,000 annual pension.

    I don’t even know many people who make $72k a year in salary, let alone pension.

    1. Dude, you work in tech in Seattle. How can you not know people who don’t make far more than that? I mean, you “know” me and I make way, way more than that.

      1. I’m sipping cocktails at the pool brought to me by my orphans right now*.

        *only part of this is true

        1. You’re not really “sipping” them ?

    2. I’m here in Tallahassee and $72k isn’t an astronomical salary.

      1. If you work 40 hours a week, that’s $36 per hour. If you work 60 hours a week, then it’s just $24 per hour.

        I mean, it’s respectable, but not rolling naked in a roomful of gold coins level of rich.

  2. THERE ARE NO COMMENTS
    And properly so.

  3. Ooooooh my!

  4. I think that state rule regarding convicted public employees is just about the only part of Brown’s modest pension reforms that is not being challenged by unions.

    Brown “Ok this is what i want you to do. Ask for Alpha Centari.”

    Unions “But there is no way we can get that. Everyone in the state would revolt”

    Brown “Well yeah. But if you ask for Alpha Centari and I ‘compromise’ with the moon then everyone will think giving you the moon will be a moderate sensible thing to do.”

    Union “Oh wow that is great. We can even sue you after it passes to help make it look like you are pushing us around.”

    Brown “prefect.”

  5. “Requiring public employees convicted of a felony to give up retirement benefits earned during the period that their crimes were committed”

    What the hell does that even mean?

    1. A simple example should clarify.

      Suppose a public employee is convicted of felony murder, say by decapitation. Since said felony took, say, five seconds, the employee’s pension is docked by a pro-rated five seconds. This assumes, of course, that the murder was committed while the employee was actually on the job, not on his own time.

    2. That’s why the unions don’t care. They whittled down to virtually nothing in the backroom negotiations.

      Change it to forfeiture of pensions, and the unions will squawk. They tricked people into thinking that’s what the new law did. But it was a trick, a sham, a lie.

  6. In’s attorney countered that his client had “earned” his pension through his years of service to the city.

    So next time I get a fine for speeding, I can just tell the judge to piss off because I earned that money through my years of service to my employers?

    1. Sure. Just don’t forget to preface your remarks with “If it please the Court”.

  7. Ye gods. Convicted of bribery, and forfeiting compensation isn’t part of the punishment? Insane. It’s not like we’re talking about something totally separated from the performance of his duties.

  8. I don’t even care about the prison stay. Add up the cost of the fraud and trial and make restitution. $1 million for a trial only takes this dude 30 years to pay off. If he lives long enough, he can start collecting after that.

  9. Dude seems to really know what itmie it is wow man.

    http://www.GoinAnon.tk

  10. Slap daddy dojo is not going to like that.

    http://www.GoinAnon.tk

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