Trenton, N.J.– Last month, the New Jersey State Police Retirement Board voted to reduce a sergeant’s pension upon his forced retirement by 12 percent because of his involvement in two drunk driving accidents. According to NJ.com, he could have received a much more severe financial penalty as a result of both accidents, which occurred in a seven-month period three years ago.
The first incident occurred while the Sgt. was off-duty and driving his personal vehicle. The Sgt. was part of a hit-and-run accident in May of 2011 on the Garden State Parkway. Coincidentally, the accident occurred just days after the New Jersey police force tightened its rules regarding accidents involving DUI.
According to retirement papers, which NJ.com obtained under the Open Public Records Act, the Sgt. later pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and failing to report a motor vehicle accident. Then, in December, the Sgt. was off-duty again while drinking in Fanwood at Oh’Brian’s Pourhouse before he drove his troop car into a utility pole on a private residence. Those same retirement records show that he fled the scene without notifying the local police and returned to his car later that morning to drive it back to his own residence.
In the second incident, the Sgt. pleaded guilty again to leaving the scene of an accident. He received a fine of $400 and his driver’s license was suspended for six months. The Sgt. eventually entered a plea agreement with the New Jersey State Police in which he admitted his guilt, received an 85-day suspension, forfeited all accrued personal and vacation time, and was terminated on March 25. Most people would expect this individual to behave much more sensibly, considering his job role. The other vehicle should really consider taking legal action against this irresponsible driver by getting in touch with a law firm. The innocent driver should be able to get compensated for any injuries or damage to their vehicle, so it’s important that they do consider filing a claim. When filing a claim on the insurance, it’s important to check whether or not the Insured Declared Value (IDV) was inputted when the car was put on the insurance policy. This will ensure that the innocent driver gets an appropriate amount of compensation, as this depends on the IDV. When getting insurance for your car, it’s so important to make sure the IDV has been filed for insurance purposes. Perhaps some people might like to read more here.
Records indicated that the second offense violated the terms of a prior agreement the Sgt. had struck with New Jersey State Police, which allowed him to be removed for just cause if any new allegations against him were serious enough to justify termination. As a result of both offenses, the State Police Retirement Board has reduced Lettieri’s annual pension from $55,984, which he would have originally been entitled to, to $48,891. According to state payroll records, he earned $116,285.56 in 2013, excluding overtime. Whilst in any other situation people would likely have their concerns over this, as a pension is an important thing for anyone to focus on (try this if you’re struggling to make sense of yours), in this case it seems justified to many.
Though the Sgt. was off-duty at the time of both incidents, he was using the New Jersey State Police troop car during the second one, when he was intoxicated. His actions discredited the State Police organization, and the retirement board since determined that his misconduct was highly egregious. The board also believes his actions were a serious breach of the trust that the public places in the State Police, and he put the safety of citizens in danger when he got behind the wheel both times.
The board based the pension reduction on the percentage of the Sergeant’s time of service they ruled to be dishonorable: three years out of 23 years and eight months. After 20 years of service, troopers get half of their final compensation for retirement. If they have between 10 and 20 years, they get just 2 percent of their final compensation after turning 55 years old.