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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.

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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