Sunday, January 14, 2007

Congressional criminals still get pensions

Effluent at No Man's Blog points out that some ex-members of Congress who are convicted criminals and currently serving time for crimes they committed while in Congress are receiving what seem like pretty generous pensions. Apparently, the bills that were supposed to prevent this from happening died in committee. This sounds like a good thing for the new Congress to correct.

If you commit crimes related to other jobs, do you lose your pension benefits? If a street car conductor who has worked for 27 years is caught embezzling money from the company he works for (and is convicted and sentenced for it), is he still entitled to whatever pension he's earned up to that point? I don't know. If I had been selling illegal Microsoft software while I worked there, would they have taken my 401(k) away? Could they have? What's the legal status of a pension?


Blogger Miguel said...

When I was hiking in Canada in September - trying to keep bears away - I was able to tell the joke about Old Joe the streetcar conductor for about 3 kilometers, uphill.

11:46 AM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous Bill in Minneapolis said...


Generally speaking pension benefits (and in particular employee contributions like 401(k) plans)are protected from forfeiture and even claims of creditors. Some private plans have provision that allow the employer to recoup losses from employee thief, dishonesty, etc. These may not be enforceable.

I do not think that just committing a felony (like taking a bribe) is a basis for forfeiture.

Once the employee receives a pension distribution or payment, then claims can be enforced against those funds.

In the criminal prosecution against some one who has received an illegal bribe, the bribe should be forfeited and the sentence should include a fine in that amount that can be collected against any assets not protected against such claims (homesstead, pension, social security, etc.).

6:32 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thank you Bill for your information on the legality of the situation.

Miguel, I'm very happy you caught my allusion to the greak American folktale of Old Joe the Streetcar Conductor. And the length of the presentation speaks well of your rhetorical skills. But I must remind you of the sacred traditions surrounding that piece of American folklore:

1. It may only be told orally, in person. It may not be written down or transmitted by any form of electronic media.

2. The tale must always be told in its entirety. It may never be abridged, summarized, abstracted, condensed, or excerpted in any way whatsoever. No spoilers allowed!

If my readers want to hear this unique and wonderful story, part of a great tradition of oral storytelling that has been in decline in this modern age, my readers will have to seek out miguel, Mad Latinist, Grishnash, myself, or another "keeper of the lore" in person.

8:50 PM, January 14, 2007  

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