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Jailed Sandusky likely to keep his $59K annual pension from state

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, left, and his wife Dottie Sandusky arrive for a preliminary hearing at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

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By Debra Erdley and Brad Bumsted
Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 11:52 p.m.

Former Penn State University football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is going to prison for sexually abusing 10 boys, but he likely will keep his state pension.

None of the 45 crimes that led a Centre County jury last week to convict Sandusky is on the list that requires forfeiture of the former coach's $58,898 annual pension.

And that makes state Sen. Larry Farnese furious.

"That's quite a handsome reward for someone who abused his power and abused these children," said Farnese, D-Philadelphia, who said Sandusky is being rewarded by taxpayers for "heinous acts of violence."

In October, a month before authorities charged Sandusky, 68, of College Township, Farnese introduced legislation that would allow seizing the state pensions of those convicted of sex offenses.

"If we had taken it up at that point, quite possibly Sandusky would not be receiving a pension of $60,000 a year," Farnese said.

Sandusky withdrew a $148,271 lump sum from his account before he began pulling down his annual stipend in 1999.

A 1978 state law outlines crimes that require pension forfeiture as those "committed by a public official or public employee through his public office or position or when his public employment places him in a position to commit the crime."

The offenses include theft, extortion, forgery, tampering with records, bribery, threats and other improper influence in official and political matters, perjury, official oppression and speculating or wagering on official action or information.Former Penn State Vice President of Finance Gary Schultz, who is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to a grand jury investigating Sandusky, could be subject to the law if convicted.

Schultz collects a state pension of about $331,000 a year, according to pension fund records. He maintains his innocence.Tim Curley, a second Penn state executive charged in the alleged cover-up, is not a member of the state pension system.

Officials with the State Employees Retirement System declined to comment on Sandusky's pension status or the provisions of the law, saying the issue won't even be reviewed until he is sentenced.

Lawmakers are poised to wrap up their summer recess this weekend. If they act now, they could end Sandusky's pension because his conviction is not final until sentencing, which is expected in the next three months, said Farnese spokesman Cameron Kline.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, co-sponsored the Farnese bill. He said he introduced legislation six years ago that would have heightened child abuse reporting requirements for school employees - only to see it die in committee.

"(Farnese's bill) was not a knee-jerk reaction. It was introduced before Penn State," Fontana said. "We could move it so fast if (leadership) would just put it on the agenda."

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