CBS 2 Chicago | 2 Investigators: State Police Retirees Draw Six-Figure Pensions

Findings from TUA’s pension project on retired Illinois State Police are featured in this story from CBS-2 Chicago. To see video of the story, click on the player below.

(CBS) — Retire at 50 and collect more than $100,000 a year – that’s the plan for a special group of state workers.
Some members of the Illinois State Police can end up collecting millions of dollars, according to a study by Taxpayers United of America.
“The pensions for the state police are outrageous,” TUA President Jim Tobin tells 2 Investigator Pam Zekman.
He says each of the top 200 state police pensioners receive an income of more than $107,000 per year. Their former state agency has the earliest retirement age and the highest pension payout over time, Tobin says.
A state trooper with 25 years on the job can retire at 50 and get 80 percent of his pay. Add overtime and yearly cost-of-living-adjustments, and some end up making more in retirement than they did while they worked.
Take John Lofton, for example. He was making a salary of $80,801 a year when he retired in 2002. He also got a check for $65,482 for overtime, CBS 2 has learned.
Overtime payments boosted Lofton’s monthly salary of $6,800 by $3,100 a month for the purpose of pension calculations, an Illinois State Retirement System official says.
Lofton’s current pension, with COLAs, is now $134,026, compared to that $80,800 annual salary when he retired.
Lofton says he earned a lot of overtime providing security for state officials.
“I just went to work and figured when it was time to retire they would calculate it all out,” Lofton told CBS 2. “People like myself, we did our jobs and we paid into the system.”
When former Illinois State Police Capt. Daniel Roach retired at age 50 he also got an $82,204 payout for unused vacation and sick time. That one-time payout does not apply to calculations for his pension, which is currently $117,787.
According to Tobin’s calculations, the early retirement means Roach could collect $7.1 million if he lives to 85.
“I’m not going to live that long,” says Roach, who now runs a private security firm.
Tobin sums up the situation this way: “Healthy people are retiring at 50 with multi-million-dollar pension payouts. Another person is then hired to do his or her job — now you’re paying two people to do a job.”
CBS 2 found some retired troopers now have a personal service contract with the state, earning a second salary.
For example, former state police Lt. Scott Deubel was 53 when he retired and currently has a pension of $119,184 a year.
Since then, he has had a contract with the Illinois State Gaming Board. The panel now pays Deupel $71 an hour or up to an estimated $139,132 annually, according to a state spokesman.
Deubel spent 20 of his 30 years with the state police overseeing casino dock sites for the gaming board.
Now, as a deputy administrator of investigations, the spokesman says Deubel has been “instrumental” in supervising video gambling investigations and the startup for a 10th casino license.
Deubel’s contract salary, together with his pension, will potentially give him an income of $233,144 for 2013.
“Does that sound like a good deal for taxpayers?” Zekman asked Deubel.
“With my experience I think it’s an excellent deal for them,” Deubel responded.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives is pushing a bill that would eliminate all of the state’s current pension plans.
“We have the worst unfunded pension liability in the entire United States,” she says. “We either reform and save you a pension and move you to a modernized 401k plan or you are at risk of not having a pension.”
Mike Powell, president of the union local that represents state police, says his organization is against any plan to take or reduce their pension.
“The vast reason the state is in trouble is because they have not paid their pension contributions,” Powell says.
State officials say the use of an “alternative formula” to calculate state police pensions began in the 1960s and over time grew to include other state investigators, public safety employees and corrections officers.
Taxpayers United has long believed that the Illinois state police are unnecessary, except for the crime lab.
Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said: “The Illinois State Police, like many other public safety organizations, have pension plans that are fully supported by its law enforcement officers throughout their careers. They pay into a retirement system and are entitled to their benefit of service. These are the men and women who risk their lives every day to keep peace and safety in all communities.
“Taxpayers United of America has stated that the Illinois State Police are “unnecessary” – a statement that should give every innocent victim, every law abiding citizen, and every taxpayer pause for concern.”

Freeze Hiring Until Pension Reforms are Implemented

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CHICAGO – The President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today called for a freeze of all Illinois government-employee hiring until pension reforms are implemented.
“Our most recent government pension study of the Illinois State Police only reinforces our conclusions from previous pension studies. The fact that a young and healthy state employee can retire at the age of 50, make over $120,000 per year to do absolutely nothing, and enjoy Cadillac health-care, all on the taxpayers’ dime, proves that the state government pension system is corrupt as well as bankrupt,” said Jim Tobin, TUA president.
“Government bureaucrats have raised the Illinois state income tax 67% to fund these outrageous pensions, while they look for even more ways to pay outrageous salaries, like shameful $1-per-pack hikes on cigarette taxes.”
“Despite the dire state of Illinois’ financial outlook, Governor Patrick Quinn (D) is looking to repay some favors by hiring an additional 200 Illinois State Police before any kind of reforms have been implemented.”
“There isn’t one Springfield leader demonstrating a willingness to fix the problems we are facing. Ill. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) has the power to fix the pension problem overnight, but he is conspicuous by his inaction.”
“The priorities of these Springfield bureaucrats are clear, and they have nothing to do with helping the hard-working taxpayers across the state. The crushing taxes created by Springfield politicians are driving producers and jobs out of the state.”
“Our most recent study shows that the top 200 Illinois State Police retirees are all collecting more than $102,000 per year. The average retirement age of this top 200 group is 52. The average lifetime payout of the top 200 is well over $5.5 million. Retirees in this group have personally invested only about 3.3% of the lifetime payout they will receive.”
“The State of Illinois could save taxpayers billions if the Illinois State Police were disbanded, leaving only the crime lab in tact. At the very least, Gov. Quinn could place a moratorium on hiring any additional State Police until the pension problem is solved.”
“Reforms must:
• Eliminate future unfunded liabilities by replacing defined benefit pensions with defined contributions for all new hires;
• Eliminate the 3% cost-of-living that doubles a pension after only 24 years;
• Increase the retirement age to 67;
• Increase employee pension contributions by 10%;
• Require 50% contribution to healthcare premiums by both employees and retirees.”
“It is unconscionable to hire any additional government employees until the pension problems are addressed here in Illinois. Madigan, Quinn, and their cronies have been dancing around this issue for at least 30 years now. They must be held accountable for their reckless disregard of taxpayers from which they siphon hard-earned dollars to pay for political favors.”
“Here are some numbers all of us can understand and why the pension system is bankrupt: John Lofton, of the Ill. State Police, retired at a ripe old age of 58. His annual pension is a stunning $134,026, which will accumulate to about $4.2 million over a normal lifetime. Not a bad return for a 3.6% personal investment!”
Timothy Becker’s annual pension is $120,672. Over a normal lifetime, his total payout will exceed $7.3 million because he retired at only 50 years of age. His personal investment in his estimated lifetime payout is only 2.8%.”
“The only responsible thing for Springfield politicians to do is put a complete freeze on all government hiring, and work on nothing but pension reform until real reforms are fully implemented. Anything less will perpetuate the back-breaking, tax-sucking system that they keep afloat with inaction and petty debate.”