Should Sex Offenders Be Allowed to Get Federal Pensions?

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By on May 8, 2019 in Retirement with 0 Comments
Scale with a wooden judge's gavel on one end being highlighted by a person's hand holding a magnifying glass and a burlap bag labeled 'penalty' at the other end

Legislation has recently been introduced that would prohibit convicted pedophiles from receiving federal pensions.

The Denying Pensions to Convicted Child Molesters Act (S. 1264) was introduced by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). It would block convicted sex offenders from receiving federal pensions.

Daines introduced the bill in response to news that Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber, a former pediatrician with the Indian Health Service, was recently convicted to 18 years in federal prison for molesting children while he worked at the agency. Since he will continue receiving an approximately $100,000 per year pension while in prison, he could end up with nearly $2 million during his 18 year sentence.

“It’s shocking that a government employee can still receive a pension after being convicted of sexually abusing children,” said Daines. “That is unacceptable, which is why I will take action and introduce a bill today to fix this flawed system.”

Background

Suspicions arose about Weber in the early 1990s when he worked at IHS. A PBS report said that despite warning signs and reports from whistleblowers, the agency never fired Weber for molesting children. Instead, he was transferred from the hospital in Browning, MT to another in Pine Ridge, SD where he continued to treat children for another 21 years, all the while continuing to molest many along the way.

“The investigation also found that the agency tolerated a number of problem doctors because it was desperate for medical staff, and that managers there believed they might face retaliation if they followed up on suspicions of abuse,” stated the PBS report.

Weber was indicted in 2017 and sentenced to prison earlier this year.

What Does It Take to Lose a Federal Pension?

It’s not unheard of for people convicted of crimes to continue receiving federal pensions after they go to prison. Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) for instance was sentenced to a 5 year prison term for fraud at the end of 2017 but remained eligible to continue to receive her federal pension under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

So what does it take to lose a pension? Under 5 U.S.C § 8312, being convicted of treason or espionage against the United States will bar an individual from receiving a pension. But otherwise, one could continue to receive a pension, even in prison.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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