By Art Gallagher
This is one of those stories I thought twice about writing because I don’t want to give “the bad guys” any smart ideas. I’ve always thought journalists who reported a crime, particularly a financial crime, and then described in detail how the crime was committed were being irresponsible. I decided to run with it in order to faciliate the end of the abuse.
Two Middletown former employees who retired in the spring of this year have applied for unemployment compensation and been granted the weekly checks by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, in addition to their pensions, over the objections of Middletown Township, according to Administrator Anthony Mercantante. A third retiree who retired in late 2010 has been collecting unemployment compensation for most of this year.
Unlike private sector unemployment compensation whereby the employers pay a percentage of their payroll as an “insurance premium” to the Department of Labor, Middletown in being billed by DOL for the entire amount that the “unemployed retirees” are collecting, according to Mercantante. Thus Middletown taxpayers are paying these former employees not to work and paying their pensions.
This is an offensive new twist on double dipping.
Mercantante said that the Department of Labor informed the township that the unemployment compensation was granted to the retirees because they claimed they would not have retired had the township not announced a layoff plan.
No one from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development was available to comment when I called this afternoon. I will follow up with them on Monday.
In the meantime, officials from other municipalities that have confronted the same situation are encouraged to use the comments section of this post to report the abuse. Readers who are members of the Christie administration, legislators and members of the media, please take note.