Benefit Forteiture – A Hidden Cost of Crime

Benefit Forteiture imageIn the Office of Inspector General, we believe our role includes deterring serious misconduct by department employees and among our business partners. We are committed to helping our colleagues sharpen their focus on the value of doing the right thing.

There are a hundred positive reasons to do the right thing! These include maintaining your integrity, being a good public servant and role model for others, respecting the process, acting with consistency, predictability and repeatability, upholding your values and the values of the agency, and many more.

On the other hand, there are negatives associated with doing the wrong thing. If an employee does the wrong thing intentionally and violates the law resulting in a conviction, those negatives could include a loss of retirement benefits.

Appearing in the Fall 2013 Edition of the Department of Management Services Florida Retirement System Newsletter, and reprinted with permission, below is an article entitled, “Benefit Forfeiture – A Hidden Cost of Crime.”

Remember, “It’s never the Wrong Time to Do the Right Thing!” Call us if we can help!

Benefit Forfeiture-A Hidden Cost of Crime

Certain employment-related offenses by public officers or employees can result in a number of consequences, some of which you may not know. Besides the stigma of being charged with a crime and the costs of defending yourself, conviction may also result in: paying fines and court costs, losing your job, and going to jail or prison.

Were you aware that conviction of certain offenses may also result in the loss of all of your FRS rights and benefits, except for a refund of your personal contributions? Forfeiture includes benefits accumulated during Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) participation.

Sections 121.091(5) and 112.3173, Florida Statutes, specify certain crimes for which you could forfeit your FRS benefit. Forfeiture will occur if: you are convicted, enter a plea of guilty or “no contest,” or your public office or employment is terminated due to an admission of committing, aiding or abetting one of the offenses:

• employment-related embezzlement, bribery and theft;
• misuse of public office as defined by Chapter 838, Florida Statutes;
• conviction of an elected official of an impeachable offense by the Florida Senate;
• violating any state law against strikes by public employees;
• committing a lewd or lascivious act, as defined in section 800.04, Florida Statutes, against a victim under the age of 16 through the use or attempted use of a member’s rights, privileges, duties or position of the member’s public office or employment position; or
• committing sexual battery, as defined in Chapter 794, Florida Statutes, against a victim under age 18 through the use or attempted use of a member’s rights, privileges, duties or position of your public office or employment position.

The division may become aware of pending or resolved charges in a number of ways, including notice from your employer, the court system, the Commission of Ethics and media reporting about the charges. The division will not pay retirement benefits to any member or beneficiary until any criminal charges are resolved. The resolution of those charges could require the forfeiture of benefits.

If you have a question about forfeiture, please contact the Bureau of Retirement Calculations by calling toll free 888-738-2252 or 850-488-6491 in the Tallahassee local calling area, faxing 850-410-2195, or emailing calculations@dms.myflorida.com.

Author: Bob Clift, Inspector General