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Pension for ex-San Diego mayor Filner still unclear after guilty plea

October 17, 2013|By Tony Perry

SAN DIEGO -- As part of his guilty plea on charges of mistreating women, ex-San Diego Mayor Bob Filner agreed to forfeit most of his mayoral pension.

The plea bargain calls for Filner to lose that portion of his mayoral pension earned from the date of his first offense in March until the date of his resignation in August.

But the pension issue is apparently complicated by differing legal interpretations.

The two laws undergirding the provision that Filner lose most of his mayoral pension may not apply to him.

A state law calling for stripping convicted felons of pensions may not apply to a charter city with its own pension plan such as San Diego, according to lawyers for the San Diego pension board.

And a San Diego law adopted by voters last year that calls for much of the same penalty for convicted felons may not apply to Filner because it exempts people already in the pension system, according to the city attorney.

Pension board lawyers are mulling the issue with a decision expected soon.

For his service on the City Council from 1987 to 1992 before being elected to Congress, Filner earned a pension of approximately $10,000 a year.

After his guilty plea Tuesday, officials at the San Diego City Employees Retirement System, also known as the pension board, calculated his nine months as mayor entitled him to a boost in his pension from the $10,000 a year to $20,638.28 a year.

Pensions are calculated based on an employee's salary. As mayor, Filner was paid $94,000 a year.

After the guilty plea, the pension board said in a statement that it is "evaluating whether there will be an impact on former Mayor Filner's benefit amount and, if so, whether he will lose part or all of his city pension."

"The complex nature of the issue," the board said, "coupled with Filner's two separate periods of city service, make this a unique situation."

Meanwhile, the 71-year-old Filner is set to surrender Sunday, when he will be booked and released at the county jail.

Judge Robert Trentacosta has ordered a probation report be done before Dec. 9, when Filner is scheduled to be sentenced for his guilty plea to felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery.

Under a plea agreement with the state attorney general's office, Filner will not serve any jail or prison time, but will spend three months of home confinement, undergo mental health counseling, and agree never to seek public office.

He may also face fines and restitution to three victims, identified as Jane Doe 1, 2, and 3.

His pensions from being a history professor at San Diego State and a member of the U.S. Congress are untouched by the plea bargain.


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