New Jersey's 39th Legislative District

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Cardinale Calls for Taxpayer Protections in Wake of $2 Million Paterson Police Officer Pension Abuse Scandal

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In the wake of a Paterson legal case that will cost taxpayers $2 million, Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-Passaic, Bergen) today renewed his call for swift passage of taxpayer-protections to end pension abuses and million-dollar payouts.

Sen. Gerald Cardinale calls for passage of his taxpayer protections in the wake of a Paterson police officer pension abuse scandal that will cost taxpayers $2 million. (Wikimedia Commons)

“It is unconscionable that Paterson, a city that receives $430 million in state aid every year, would waste millions of taxpayer dollars to keep a police officer accused of such a heinous crime on the payroll,” Senator Cardinale said. “Now Manuel Avila will be eligible for lifetime Cadillac health benefits and thousands of dollars in extra pension payments – all on the backs of hardworking taxpayers.”

Manuela Avila, a suspended Paterson Police Officer who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in custody, collected $900,000 in pay during the nine years he was suspended, according to recent reports. Despite accusations of wrongdoing, city officials allowed Avila to remain on the job long enough to be eligible for lifetime health benefits and extra annual pension payments.

In March, Senator Cardinale introduced a trio of new taxpayer-protection bills to accompany his bipartisan reform to end six-figure sick-leave payouts for public employees.

“Police officers like Manuel Avila who game the system cast a shadow on the countless upstanding law enforcement officials who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe,” Senator Cardinale added. “This case clearly highlights the need for my legislation. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to immediately advance my good government reforms and end these taxpayer abuses once and for all.”

Senator Cardinale’s first bill, S-1702, would prevent last-minute contract revisions to increase public employee salaries, pad pensions and hike boat checks. Specifically, it would prohibit state agencies, state government, state authorities and commissions, public institutions of higher education and local governments from giving retroactive salary increases greater than five percent of salary.

Under S-1702, any employee who leaves employment within one year of receiving a retroactive salary increase must repay the increase. The increased salary could not be used to calculate any benefit the employee may be entitled to upon termination.

Additional legislation included in this package would ban legislators and full-time New Jersey municipal employees from simultaneously working another public job, except for military service and volunteer fire, EMS or rescue service positions.

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