Other compensation items could be tacked onto each man's final year's pay, pushing retirement income even higher. In addition, both are entitled to automatic cost-of-living increases. Fritz estimates that Rizzo's payout could exceed $30 million over his lifetime.
CalPERS manages retirements for 1.6 million active and retired employees. An estimated 90% of public agencies in California participate in the retirement system.
Public pensions are difficult to rescind. Courts have repeatedly upheld the contracts in favor of employees, said Stephen Silver, a Santa Monica attorney who specializes in public pension law.
"It's pretty hard to do," Silver said. "You'd have to prove some sort of fraud or undue influence."
Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona, convicted of witness tampering, receives a pension of about $215,000 a year. Robert Citron, who led Orange County into bankruptcy in 1994, collects $142,000. And Former Vernon City Manager Bruce Malkenhorst Sr., indicted for misappropriating public funds, collects the highest public pension in California, $509,664.
Rizzo would be at the top of the pension list once he begins to collect, and Adams would be right behind Malkenhorst.
Silver said that perhaps the best chance for rescinding at least part of a pension would be for investigators to show that Bell's high salaries were an unlawful expenditure of public funds.
"That's what this really smacks of," he said.