Contractor still trying to collect NJ pension years after Christie blasted the ‘insanity’
A former Democratic party boss whose law firm did work for a dozen public entities won't be collecting a fat pension, but he may be entitled to a smaller retirement check.
A pension board in 2014 determined that Michael Angelini was a private contractor, not a public employee, when he spent decades working for the public agencies. An appellate court panel this week upheld that decision.
The ruling, however, may allow Angelini to collect some retirement payments for four of the municipalities he worked for.
Angelini's attorney, Ellis I. Medoway, of the firm Archer & Greiner, did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
The decision comes eight years after Angelini's bid to collect a $100,000 annual pension first made headlines and drew Gov. Chris Christie's ire.
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Angelini's scheme was the subject of a state inspector general's investigation in 2009, which found that municipalities placed the Gloucester County Democrat on their payrolls by using "novel and contrived arrangements, often proposed by him."
Angelini was investigated by the state Attorney General's Office but he was never charged or accused of wrongdoing.
Christie, then just starting his first term, called Angelini's scheme the type of "insanity that people sent me to Trenton to fix and I'm going to fix it."
State lawmakers in 2007 passed a law that banned "independent contractors" like Angelini from getting state pensions in the future.
Although Angelini was hired by municipalities and public agencies, others at his law firm often performed the work. In 2005, he earned a combined $213,000 from all his posts.
The Board of Trustees for the Public Employees Retirement System ruled in 2014 that Angelini was not a public employee, rejecting an administrative law judge's decision that he was a public employee for at least some of the agencies he worked for.
Angelini argued he did nothing wrong and was just following the rules. He said he should be entitled to the pension because the municipalities made payments on his behalf into the pension system.
But the 24-page appellate decision on Thursday said he was only enrolled in the pension system based on "misinformation."
The appellate panel asked the pension board to review whether Angelini may be entitled to pension benefits for the time he worked in East Greenwich, Monroe in Gloucester County, Gloucester Township and Oaklyn.
Angelini had also worked for Clayton, West Deptford, Gloucester County Board of Social Services, Mantua, Paulsboro, Gloucester County Improvement Authority, South Jersey Port Corp., and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.