The Governor’s office announced August 7 that a new Pension Fraud and Abuse Unit tasked with investigating pension fraud and abuse.
The unit was created by way of executive order (EO#138). It will be housed under the state Treasury Department. The unit is tasked with seeking out pension and disability benefit fraud and ineligibility according to the governor’s office.
“This is a serious and significant new step to protect the integrity of the system and guard every taxpayer dollar and employee contribution from fraud and abuse” Christie said in a statement. “Siphoning of pension and disability benefits by fraud or ineligibility hurts everyone including honest current and future pensioners and above all New Jersey taxpayers who support the system and expect it to be fair and free of fraud.”
The unit will be headed by Jim Scott who will move from his position as a white-collar crime investigator at the Attorney General’s Office. Scott will report to state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff
Executive Order No.138 takes effect with the Governor’s signature. The Treasurer will appoint and assign investigators and other employees to the Unit to investigate public pension claims and payments including disability pension claims and claims of improper participation in the retirement systems.
It will investigate public pension claims and payments – including disability claims and allegations of improper participation in the state’s retirement system – and have the ability to seek civil and criminal enforcement. The Unit will work closely and coordinate with the Division of Pensions and Benefits in the Treasury Department and the Attorney General’s Office and will also take referrals from the Office of the State Comptroller. The agencies will meet regularly to coordinate and ensure maximum cooperation in their work.
Those agencies according to Governor Christie’s Executive Order will “undertake investigations share information and resources develop strategies for curtailing fraud and abuse and identify cases for civil and criminal prosecution.”
The Pension Fraud and Abuse Unit will also encourage the public to report fraudulent pension and benefit claims and payments. It will maintain a website mailing address and toll-free number to take such reports from the public. The Unit is also authorized to call upon the expertise and assistance of all state departments and agencies to carry out its mission – including the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Treasury Motor Vehicle Commission and others.