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NJ Watchdog: Polhemus, Sommeling Among 51 County Police Officials 'Double Dipping'

Investigation finds law enforcement officials collectively earning $3.7M a year in salary while drawing $5.4M annually in pensions

Ocean County Sheriff William Polhemus and Undersheriff William Sommeling are among 51 county law enforcement officials in New Jersey who still receive salaries while also drawing a pension, according to a report by New Jersey Watchdog.

The investigation found that 17 sheriffs and 34 undersheriffs collectively earn $9.1 million a year "double dipping" — $3.7 million in retirement pay on top of $5.4 million in salaries — while utilizing loopholes under Gov. Chris Christie's pension reforms.

In Ocean County, Polhemus earns $165,941 annually, with $43,272 of his compensation in pension costs. Sommeling makes $116,540 a year, with $27,540 coming from his pension.

New Jersey Watchdog reports that participants in police pension plans qualify for "special" retirement after 25 years of service but often find opportunities to get back onto the public payroll, benefiting "from creative strategies, loopholes in laws and lax enforcement of rules."

“It’s not a great deal for taxpayers, and it’s something we need to fix,” state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, told NBC 4 New York, which produced the report in concert with New Jersey Watchdog. “The pension system is to support you when you’re done working. It isn’t there for you to enrich yourself by taking on another public salary.”

Beck also has sponsored a bill that would suspend state pension payments to public retirees who return to work at salaries beyond $15,000, but it has stalled in committee, the report states. 

Essex County's Armando Fontoura makes the most among county officials while "double-dipping," the report states, earning $1.14 million in pension checks, while drawing a salary for the past 22 years.

“Does it look bad? Yes. No question about it, it looks bad. Was it legal? Yes,” Fontoura told NBC 4 New York.

Click here to read the full report.

Keith October 17, 2012 at 11:21 AM
This is exactly one of MANY MANY reasons I will not be voting for Polhemus. He is so out of touch with the communities he represents and how he allocates money for the department. I know this from an insider perspective.
Mrgrumpass October 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Polhemus needs to go!
Jerry Belle October 17, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I know this is about Sheriffs, but I believe we have one of these double dippers on the Brick Town Council - Domenick Brando. He receives an over $70,000 disability pension since approx. 9/2006 after being a South Hackensack Twp Police Officer for only 12 years before an accident injured his spine. Now he's gone from being a health and safety coordinator for the BTMUA to a Councilperson..... same old, same old...
Larry Goschen October 17, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Interesting.....always Law Enforcement singled out. I know a retired teacher getting great pension, free health care, soc security, works a four month seasonal job she gets laid off from every year and collects unemplyement checks....Not making this up...TRUE
Keith October 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Your example is totally different. The people doing this in NJ are retired with taxpayer full pensions then getting re hired "full time" by more public sector jobs (that will also have a pension). A lot of retirees work part time while on SS and pensions. Not on the taxpayer dime though.
oldkodger October 17, 2012 at 02:40 PM
the enemy is among us
Michele White October 17, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Honestly what dies he do at work beside have lunch and nap.
The Greater Fool October 17, 2012 at 03:15 PM
It doesn't matter whether the examples are different or not! The fact that ANY of this nonsense goes on (and is allowed) is nothing short of a crime. Doesn't matter who it is. NOTHING WILL CHANGE IF WE THE PEOPLE DON'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. We have become so complacent...We forget what actually had to happen for the United States to even exist or to abolish slavery, or for women to vote or to end segregation. It's the only way.
ray October 17, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Gee, I thought being disabled meant you couldn't work. Silly me.
Andrew Quinn October 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Larry teachers and cops aren't held to the same standards teacher's teach cops take an oath and are supposed to have our best interest at heart and protect us. It doesn't sound like protect & serving, unless it's protecting there wallets and serving themselves.
Keith October 17, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I would think if he is getting disability from insurance and then working at the same time that would be fraud.
The Greater Fool October 17, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Teachers and cops aren't the only problem. I agree with them having to pay into their benefits but why are they the only ones targeted. Yes sacrifices need to be made but they need to be made across the board. Why do teachers, firefighters, and cops have to sacrifice yet we have judges getting raises and governers walking away from their term with a $200k/yr pension and other benefits for the rest of their lives, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Why is that ok?
Keith October 17, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Its a problem across the board no matter what job you hold that the taxpayers are responsible for. I think the fact that there are 51 in this sector alone shines a very bright light on the problem. Who knows where else it is rampant. Now lets start exposing the others who do the same and get some outrage built up.
The Greater Fool October 17, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I agree but I think there's more to it than exposing the others. All of this is public knowledge. It's about standing and saying WHAT'S HAPPENING IS WRONG! Everyone wants to give kudos to Christie for his "no nonsense" attitude but he is only "no nonsense" with a select few. That's like being parents to three children and telling two of them that, "Money is tight and we need to cut back, so we can't afford to pay for your college," and then turning around and sending the other one to Princeton. It's not ethical.
Nancy October 17, 2012 at 06:30 PM
What I don't understand is why are we paying out pensions to people who haven't yet reached a reasonable retirement age....say 65?
none of yobusiness October 17, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Ill tell you why Nancy, because the PBA is very powerful. I hate it when cops go after teachers they dont make half what a cop is making these days. Teachers have four year degrees or better yet all that is required to become a policeman is a GED.
Tired of the BS October 17, 2012 at 11:45 PM
NEWS FLASH----It was going on way before Christie came in. I know this for a fact!!! I have an immediate family member who was on the police force for many years, retired, collects a pension, and a large salary for employment at the prosecutors office, and has been like that for more then 10 years. I absolutely hate the fact that my family would that. It's disgusting!!
oldsoldier October 18, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I would not be so quick to criticze the police about their retirement age. As someone who served in the military, I can tell you it is unrealistic to have a 60 plus year old soldier fighting fighting in the battlefield. I cannot see a 60 plus year old police officer having to contend with a 21 year old in a scuffle or footchase. Hopefully you see how unrealistic that is, and I am thankful for them everyday that they put their lives on the line for us. As far as the four year degrees go, answer me this: Will having a BS/BA in Education, Psychology, Science, etc., help when you are fighting with a drug dealer? How about having to decide whether or not to shoot someone who has a gun? How about giving CPR to someone? As a soldier, deciding how to engage the enemy? How about parachuting in to a hot zone under enemy fire? I recommend to you that you watch the news, read articles when it comes to what these men and women in uniform do and deal with before reducing their works to age and salary issues. I submit to you that if you feel you can do better for less, then put your money where your mouth is and sign up.
none of yobusiness October 18, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Im not questioning age or skills of any profession oldsoldier. I am merely point out some of differences between two professions at the point of entry level. I know that you dont walk on the job having all those skills on day one. I do have to disagree with you on one point, I believe having a education does make a better policeman or solider. If I find myself in a foxhole with somebody else I want him/her to be not only seasoned in combat but also educated.
Tom October 18, 2012 at 03:37 AM
County pigs at it again. @noyb.... Watch what you wish for? There is a lot of educated idiots in this world.
KC October 18, 2012 at 04:27 AM
For this to occur when so many people don't even have one job opportunity is inconscionable. IMO these two old farts need to roll over and do volunteer work if they need to get out of the house.
KC October 18, 2012 at 04:27 AM
PS Thank you Patch for informing my vote.
can't say who October 18, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Polhemus is about 85. So you think it is OK to double dip for 20 years?
Nancy October 18, 2012 at 02:49 PM
No I think double dipping should be outlawed for everyone, right across the board. But think about someone who retires in their 40's with 25 yrs of service. They could be on the public payroll for another 50 yrs or so....and they also can go back on the public payroll for another full time salary.
Lori Morrison October 18, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Larry, Councilman Brando, not law enforcement is singled out for good reason. He is collecting a DISABILITY pension due to a spinal injury and working full time at the BTMUA. His pension alone is more than what most teachers make after 12 years of teaching. For a man with a disabling spine injury, he is a very active person!
oldsoldier October 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM
While I understand your point, I have to say in my opinion it is unrealistic. First, someone who is a warrior, good health, sound mind, highly educated and willing to go to war when the time comes, is not going to want to be a private. Trust me, I was a private and did not have the formal higher education (that does not mean stupid by the way). If I did, I would have gone the route for being a military officer (more rank, more pay). Someone has to be the private, though. For the police officer, add to that the willingness to put their lives on the line every single day. Not that I care to degrade teachers (not my intent). But the "entry level" disparities in pay are warranted, as there is no real comparison in job description. Also - I do agree with the original issue, however. No double dipping. This is yet another fine example (many are out there) where we the people elected the Sheriff again, and again and again. Stop electing him - That is the cure for the problem. Vote for the person not the party.

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