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Judge orders release of L.A. County pension data

Rejecting arguments that the records are confidential, he rules that all pension data for 50,000 government retirees must be disclosed. The Times has sought the data for nearly a year.

November 16, 2011|By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles judge Tuesday ordered the release of all pension data for 50,000 Los Angeles County government retirees, rejecting arguments by union and retirement system attorneys that the records are confidential.

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled that the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn. must produce several variables that are used to calculate an employee's pension, including years of service at retirement, additional service credits purchased by an employee and the pension formula.

Chalfant also largely denied a request by lawyers for two unions representing sheriff's deputies to keep the names of former undercover officers secret. The union lawyers argued that revealing those names could put the retired officers at risk of retaliation from drug cartels and gang members that they targeted on the job.

But the judge said most of the examples cited by the attorneys were "speculative" and agreed to keep confidential only two names. One of those retired deputies is now in prison and could be threatened by inmates if his name and former position were revealed, said Ricardo Ochoa, an attorney for the Professional Peace Officers Assn.

The Times has sought pension data on the county's 50,000 retirees for nearly a year. In September, the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn., which administers the pension benefits, provided limited information on retirees, including their names, pension payments and the departments from which they retired.

But the release of similar data for 2,527 public safety employees was delayed after a union attorney alleged that its release could endanger the lives of some retirees. Tuesday's ruling compels the disclosure of those records.

catherine.saillant@latimes.com

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