HARRISBURG, Pa., June 23 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania state hearing officer recommended that the state resume paying disgraced former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky his $4,900 per month pension because the crimes he was convicted of were not committed while he was employed by the university.
In an opinion released Monday, hearing examiner Michael Bangs recommended that Sandusky's full pension be reinstated because he was convicted for charges that began in 2004, five years after he retired from coaching.
"Because (Sandusky) was not a school employee at the time that he committed the crimes, which are subject of this action, his pension is not subject to forfeiture under Pennsylvania law."
Pennsylvania's State Employees Retirement System maintains it does not have to pay Sandusky because he was indeed employed by Penn State in 2004, even though he was not a coach.
According to SERS attorney Steve Bizar, Penn State paid Sandusky a $168,000 lump sum just prior to his retirement from coaching and he continued to work for the university unpaid until 2009. Bizar said Sandusky was provided with an office and unfettered access to Penn State facilities in return for promoting university interests through outreach programs and other visibility initiatives.
"Here, several of the elements necessary to prove that Sandusky has forfeited his benefits are not in dispute," Bizar wrote.
"For instance, it is undisputed that Sandusky was a 'public employee' solely by virtue of his SERS membership. Moreover, it is undisputed that Sandusky was convicted of crimes, which were specifically identified in the 2004 amendments of the Forfeiture Act as being crimes that merited forfeiture of benefits."
Although also released Monday, Bang's opinion is unrelated to the report about the internal review into how state prosecutors handled the investigation into Sandusky's sex abuse charges. The former football coach is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for 45 counts of child sex abuse.