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Family to Get $1.28-Million Pension in Suicide of Pennsylvania Official

April 16, 1987|Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The family of the state treasurer who killed himself at a press conference one day before his sentencing on bribery-conspiracy charges will receive $1.28 million in pension benefits, a state board ruled Wednesday.

The money, to be paid in a lump sum to the heirs of R. Budd Dwyer, represents the largest death benefit payment ever made by the state system, said William Moran, chairman of the State Employees' Retirement Board.

State law prohibits the payment of pension benefits to officials convicted of wrongdoing, but Andrew Cline of the Governor's Office of General Counsel said conviction legally does not occur until sentencing.

Dwyer was to have been sentenced Jan. 23, but the day before, he put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger as reporters watched in horror.

Life Insurance Review

State officials also are reviewing the status of Dwyer's $40,000 state employee life insurance policy. Stephen Gardner, spokesman for the state Department of General Services, said no decision on the insurance has been made.

The pension benefit is calculated on a formula that takes into account length of state service and average salary. Dwyer served as a schoolteacher, state representative, state senator and treasurer.

Retirement board members were told by their lawyer at an earlier meeting that they were required to give the money to Dwyer's heirs--his wife, Joanne, and their two children.

Dwyer was found guilty in December on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, interstate transportation in aid of racketeering and perjury. The charges stemmed from a federal grand jury investigation that found that Dwyer had agreed to accept a $300,000 kickback in return for awarding a lucrative data processing contract to a California firm, Computer Technology Associates.

The treasurer maintained his innocence throughout the trial and after a jury found him guilty in federal court in Williamsport.

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