Anne Arundel Co. seeks return of pension money

April 08, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County officials say they are forcing four former top officials -- including a former chief administrative officer -- to return a total of about $40,000 they collected in illegally large county pensions during the late 1980s and 1990s.

The demand for repayments is the most recent action in a battle that the administration of Republican County Executive John G. Gary has been waging with well-connected employees under his predecessors as county executive, O. James Lighthizer and Robert R. Neall, over unusually generous pensions offered from 1989 to 1993.

A recent county audit of the financially troubled pension plan offered to appointed and elected officials until 1993 found that as many as two-thirds of the retirees may have been getting incorrect pension checks, most of them getting too much.

The audit, released this week by county Auditor Teresa Sutherland, also revealed that four former employees were receiving pensions so large that they may have violated federal laws limiting retirement benefits for government employees.

Among the four is Adrian G. Teel, a former county chief administrative officer, according to county sources. The names of the other three could not be confirmed yesterday.

The Internal Revenue Service limits pensions for government employees at $90,000 for a person who retires at age 62. It allows smaller pensions for employees who retire at younger ages.

The four former county officials were receiving pensions that exceeded those limits. The county auditor refused to release their names and pensions, saying the state Freedom of Information Act does not require disclosure of retirement benefits.

County Attorney Phillip Scheibe said the county plans to reduce the size of pension checks for any of the four retirees who fail to return the roughly $40,000 they were overpaid.

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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