An Illinois lawmaker said he wants to keep lifetime pension benefits away from crooked public employees’ family members who help them break the law.
Inspired by the public outrage over Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz's embezzlement crimes leading up to his suicide, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Cary, is sponsoring a bill that would keep convicted accomplices of convicted public employees from collecting pension benefits. McSweeney said committing crimes against taxpayers should disqualify someone from pensions benefits, which are funded by taxpayers.
"We have enough problems in this state with unfunded pension liabilities," McSweeney said. "Someone who is involved in criminal activity with their spouse shouldn't receive pension benefits in the future."
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The bill would only apply to employees hired after the law goes into effect, as any retroactive change to established pensions would likely be deemed a breach of the Illinois Constitution. Illinois law currently disqualifies someone from pension benefits if he or she is convicted of certain crimes, but there is no law that denies survivor benefits for accomplices to the crimes.
State Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, sponsored legislation last session that was similar, but it didn't become law. McSweeney's bill could be heard in this November's veto session. McSweeney said Althoff plans to sign on as the bill's chief sponsor in the State Senate.
Melodie Gliniewicz faces multiple felony counts tied to the embezzlement of public funds from a youth education program run by her late husband. Joseph Gliniewicz committed suicide last year in an apparent attempt to cover up his crimes.
The Northwest Herald reports that Mrs. Gliniewicz could be eligible for 75 percent of her late husband's $96,000 annual salary.