Saturday, February 21, 2015

Convicted Georgia police chief to collect $130k yearly pension while serving his 7 year prison sentence.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Convicted of extortion and illegal gambling, Savannah's former police chief will continue to collect a pension worth nearly $130,000 a year while he serves 7 ½ years in federal prison.

That comes to more than $970,000 before taxes.

Some City Council members have called for revoking or slashing the retirement benefits of former Savannah-Chatham County Police Chief Willie Lovett, who was sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge earlier this month. But City Attorney Brooks Stillwell told council members Thursday a state law that forces convicted public employees to surrender a chunk of their pensions can't be applied to the ex-chief.

City officials may ask Georgia's attorney general for a second opinion.

"We all agree, as does the community, that this is a miscarriage of justice," said City Council member Mary Ellen Sprague. "For him to get such a huge pension is just incredibly troubling."

During his trial last fall, prosecutors said Lovett pocketed more than $70,000 from operators of carnival trailers used as a front for illegal gambling in Savannah during holidays such as St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Day. Lovett was accused of taking cash in exchange for letting the gambling trailers stay open for a decade. That included Lovett's four years as police chief, until he retired abruptly in September 2013. The ex-chief was indicted about nine months later.

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