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L.A. councilman pushes for convicted workers to lose city pensions

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticePension and WelfarePoliticsInterior PolicyLos Angeles City CouncilFBI

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander is pushing for the city to change its rules so that any employee convicted of a felony involving their city job can be required to forfeit their pension.

The move comes after The Times reported that a building inspector sentenced to prison in an FBI corruption case would continue to receive his yearly pension of more than $72,000.

State law requires public employees who are convicted of a felony to give up retirement benefits they earned during the period that they committed their crimes. But that rule doesn’t apply to Los Angeles, which manages its own pension systems.

In a motion backed by six other members of the council, Englander asked City Atty. Mike Feuer to prepare and present an ordinance that would change the rules.

“If a city employee is convicted of a felony involving the use of their city position, the convicted employee should have to forfeit the entire pension,” the motion states. That penalty would “act as a deterrent for any person even thinking of using their city position to engage in felonious conduct.”

Feuer's spokesman Rob Wilcox said last week that any such change would only apply to employees who were hired after the new rules went into effect.

However, the motion also asks the city personnel department to report on any possible ways the city could get the convicted building inspector, Samuel In, to forfeit his pension. 

In's attorney, Harold Greenberg, argued earlier that In had earned his pension in his 37 years on the job. The veteran building inspector has already been ordered to pay $30,000 to the city as part of his sentence for felony bribery.

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emily.alpert@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesemily

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