The number of retired New Jersey public officials who collect more than $100,000 a year from the state pension system has more than doubled in the past five years, according to an NJ Spotlight analysis of state data.
At the end of 2015, 2,296 retirees were collecting six-figure pensions from state pension plans, a 131 percent increase above 2010, when 992 retirees were collecting pensions above $100,000.
Ten former public employees in Princeton are on the list.
The $100K Club is loaded with retired school executives, judges police, and fire officials. Nearly half the people on the list belong to the New Jersey Police and Firemen’s Retirement System. Of those, 93 percent took advantage of a special retirement provision in state pension law that allows law-enforcement officers – but not other public employees – to collect full benefits after 25 years of service, regardless of age.
A loophole in the law also lets some employees collect pensions while working a new job. Sixteen of the county sheriffs in the state, including Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler, pocket six-figure salaries while also collecting special pensions as retired police officers.
In Princeton, four retired police officers, two former business administrators, and four retired school administrators are part of the 100K Club.
Former Princeton Police Chief David Dudeck receives a pension of $128,693 annually. Princeton officials pressured him to retire in 2013 after the police union filed a complaint about him. Rather than conducting an investigation and hearing, the Princeton governing body struck a deal with the police union. The union promised not to sue the town if Dudeck retired. Dudeck took the deal, and shortly thereafter six of the police officers filed a suit against the town. That lawsuit is still being settled.
Former Princeton Township Police Chief Robert Buchanan, who retired abruptly the year before the two Princetons consolidated, receives a pension of $118,154 annually. Former Princeton Township police Chief Anthony Gaylord receives a pension of $116,591. Former Princeton Police Lt. Sharon Papp, who retired last year, receives a pension of $115,937.
James Pascale, the Princeton Township administrator who retired abruptly around the same time as Buchanan the year before consolidation, receives an annual pension of $114,992. Pascale recently served as the business administrator in South Palm Beach, Fla. Bob Bruschi, the Princeton administrator who retired last year, receives a $103,485 annual pension.
Former Princeton Superintendent of Schools Judith Wilson is paid an annual pension of $139,227. Former John Witherspoon Middle School Principal Bill Johnson receives $114,822. Barbara Obreza receives 111,898 and Cherry Sprague is paid $102,193.
100K Pension Club Members in neighboring municipalities and Mercer County government:
George Meyer, Hopewell Township, $100,660
Chiaradia Ida, Hopewell Valley Regional Schools, $101,740
Mark Boyd, Lawrence Township, $101,709
Bill Guhl, Lawrence Township, $102,434
Daniel Posluszny, Lawrence Township, $111,826
Joseph Prettyman, Lawrence Township, $100,699
Barbara Beers, Lawrence Schools, $101,849
Philip Meara, Lawrence Schools, $123,794
Stuart Schnur, Montgomery Schools, $103,647
Thomas Venanzi, Montgomery Schools, $113,546
Troy Bell, Plainsboro Township, $101,633
Richard Furda, Plainsboro Township, $100,761
Arthur Downs, WW-P Regional Schools, $105,735
Victoria Kniewel, WW-P Regional Schools, $122,028
Denise Mengani, WW-P Regional Schools, $111,770
Michael Zapicchi, WW-P Regional Schools, $115,992
Martin Levandowski, Mercer County, $102,493
Albert Paglione, Mercer County, $100,474
Charles Waldron, Mercer County, $103,474
Carl Kreger, Mercer County Special Services Schools, $103,037
Patricia Sodano, Mercer County Special Services Schools, $114,368