Office Locations 

District Office
1038 Second Street Pike, Suite 101
Richboro, PA 18954
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday
Phone: (215) 364-3414
Fax: (215) 364-8626

Satellite Office

123 W Bridge St
New Hope, PA 18938
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday
Phone: (215) 862-1940 
Fax: (215) 862-1943

Capitol Address Information
105 Ryan Office Buildling
PO Box 202178
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2178
Phone: (717) 787-9033
Fax: (717) 705-1802

Pension Forfeiture Bill Takes Aim at Public Corruption
5/17/2017
House again offers its overwhelming approval, sends bill back to Senate
By Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks)
For years, we have watched as one government official after another have shamed themselves and the institution whose laws they swore to uphold by committing crimes in office. Whether they misappropriated funds; misused government resources, personnel or equipment for personal or political gain; or otherwise abused the privilege of their elected or appointed office, their actions have come at a great cost – to themselves, the institution and the taxpayers who ultimately pay the price for these transgressions.

As chairman of the House Ethics Committee last session, it was clear to me that our laws are inadequate when it comes to holding public officials truly accountable for criminal activity. Time and again we see high-ranking public officials cutting deals under which they agree to plead guilty to a lesser crime – one that protects and preserves their lucrative public pensions – and our laws permit them to do so. These individuals betray the trust of those who elected them and our laws are insufficient to shield the taxpayers who must bear the brunt of these misdeeds.

By a vote of 190-1 last week, the House approved my bill to strengthen Pennsylvania’s laws governing public corruption. House Bill 939 would hold state, county and municipal government officials, state employees, judges, teachers and other school district employees, accountable for crimes related to their official duties by requiring them to forfeit their government pension and pay appropriate restitution when they plead guilty or no contest to any crime related to their official government position or any felony offense related to their office or employment. My bill would also impact federal crimes that are classified as felonies or are punishable by a term of at least five years in prison.

Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Mellow (D-Lackawanna), who went to prison five years ago on federal crimes related to his office, is now petitioning to get his $20,000 a month state pension restored, arguing that current law does not cover federal crimes. Under my bill, this argument would not exist.

Currently, the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act does not preclude public employees or public officials who are charged with a forfeiture crime to plead to a lesser offense that does not trigger pension forfeiture. House Bill 939 would close that loophole and hold public officials accountable for their actual crimes. This means that those government officials and employees who commit crimes in office would be unable to avoid losing their taxpayer-paid pension by pleading guilty to a lesser offense. My legislation would remove this discretion, requiring offenders to face the real penalties associated with their crimes. This would also include payment of restitution for the victims of their crimes, often the taxpayers.

My bill would make our public corruption laws the toughest in the nation. At least 11 states have legislation that requires pension forfeiture for public officials convicted of a felony associated with their public office. Nine others revoke pensions for any crime involving their office.

The House passed my legislation last session by a vote of 188-2, but the Senate failed to act on it. The House has once again given the bill its overwhelming approval and is sending it back to the Senate. Pension forfeiture is the best hope we have to deter crime in public office. It is time to root out public corruption and ensure Pennsylvania taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.
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