KABOOM! A Judge Bends Over Backward To Make Sure A Crooked Cop Keeps His Pension

head_explodes

I don’t see how a justice system that allows this nonsense can maintain any credibility whatsoever. Thus my brains and skull fragments are scattered all over my office. Read on at the peril of a blown cranium.

James Romano is the police chief of Scott Township and a part-time police officer in Dickson City in  Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. Last year, he was investigating sexual misconduct charges against a local high school teacher that he had filed himself. Romano began a romantic relationship with a woman whom he was interviewing as part of that investigation. In the process, he revealed confidential investigative information about the case ( he told her she was “his favorite victim”), and when he learned that she was going to be interviewed by authorities, Romano texted her a message saying “just remember nothing about me,” and later told her not to tell the truth to investigators. Roman was charged with two counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, and one count of obstructing administration of law or other governmental function.

Are you ready? Romano pleaded guilty and agreed to resign his post, but his lawyer persuaded Lackawanna County President Judge Thomas Munley to defer Romano’s sentencing until the state confirms that the former chief will receive his pension, a determination that may not be made until Mr. Romano turns 50, seven years from now.

KABOOM!

The Chief doesn’t want to lose his pension, you see, so he says that he will withdraw his plea unless he is assured that his pension won’t be affected by the conviction. That assurance typically won’t occur until he’s eligible to receive.

Oh, by all means, let’s make certain that a corrupt who abused his power and obstructed justice gets his maximum pension! Has the world gone mad? If Romano wants to withdraw his plea, let him! Then try and convict his sorry, law-enforcement-disgracing carcass and sentence him to the maximum. Has a judge ever had sympathy for a non-police officer, non-white collar perp who made such a request—“Please don’t do anything for seven years because it’s going to really be a hardship for me”? Here’s how you keep your pension, Chief: don’t break laws. Don’t corrupt witnesses. Don’t use your position to get cheap sex. Don’t lie. The way to keep your pension is to deserve it, and you don’t.

Judge Munley is a fool, and the good people of Lackawanna County should pick up  their torches and pitchforks and made sure that neither he nor Romano collect their pensions. I can’t begin to formulate a valid justification for Munley, for anyone, allowing this kind of blatant favoritism and obscene leniency to occur.

___________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Sources: Penn. Atty. Gen.; Times-Tribune

11 thoughts on “KABOOM! A Judge Bends Over Backward To Make Sure A Crooked Cop Keeps His Pension

  1. Let’s be fair. Judge Munley isn’t the one who imposed the term. The prior judge, Judge Kane, is the one who agreed to it. Judge Munley simply let the earlier ruling stand. And, the record isn’t before us–we don’t know if Judge Kane realized that it might take 7 years, rather than simply awaiting a bureaucratic decision from the state pension folks.

    Romano appears to have broken the law. But for years, he didn’t break the law and earned a pension that he’d like to keep. It is incredibly common for public employees to condition plea deals on ensuring they won’t lose their pensions. And, since this is a plea deal, such regularly imposes less than the maximum sentence in exchange for the voluntary plea (with the defense giving up his right to force the state to prove its case). Thus, perhaps the judge feels that the prison/probation/fine is sufficient punishment and that loss of the pension (which a private sector criminal would not suffer) should not be part of the punishment for someone making a voluntary plea. No kaboom.

    • The fact that my head has exploded over this issue before doesn’t make it feel better.

      1. Munley let an idiotic decision stand and didn’t have to: he owns it.
      2. The pension issue should be irrelevant, just as the effects of a prison sentence on marriages, family, earning capacity, health, sexual access and resumes are irrelevant. “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” (Baretta)
      3. “It is incredibly common for public employees to condition plea deals on ensuring they won’t lose their pensions.” Yes, and its an outrage that this is allowed. Ever.
      4. “But for years, he didn’t break the law and earned a pension that he’d like to keep.”And for years, Ted Bundy didn’t kill anyone, and would have loved to keep practicing law. He can cry me a river. A pension should encourage continued good conduct and be forfeited if the conduct is sufficiently bad. Why should taxpayers continue to pay for bad actors?
      5. “Thus, perhaps the judge feels that the prison/probation/fine is sufficient punishment and that loss of the pension (which a private sector criminal would not suffer) should not be part of the punishment for someone making a voluntary plea.” I’m sure she and he both do, because they get pensions themselves, and may be taking bribes as we speak. So what? That is not the proper concern of the justice system.

          • No, I’ve discussed it with Jack, and he agrees with me completely.

            He doesn’t see a judge refusing to penalize an convicted individual who made every effort to comply with his sentence and was left out of jail for 13 years because of bureaucratic snafus as vaguely in the same ball park as a judge who bends over backward to help a crooked cop keep getting paid for life by the taxpayers he betrayed. That was his phrasing, by the way, not mine.
            [from the thread on the other page. for the record, I’m not Deery.]

            I’m afraid both Jacks are in error. If the other guy made every effort to comply with his sentence, he would have walked into the warden’s office daily to try to get himself incarcerated.
            Judges taking pleas usually don’t impose the maximum sentence. This officer’s maximum sentence included the loss of pension; here, the judge merely opted to not impose that maximum. If this officer is to face the maximum penalty, so should every other felon who pleads guilty.

            • No, both opinions are correct. The loss of the pension shouldn’t even be on the radar screen, and it’s unjust anyway—once a public official had betrayed the public, tax payers shouldn’t give him another cent. The entitlement mentality with public pensions is lazy thinking.

              As for the free felon–he stayed in the area and followed the advice of his lawyer to the letter. You can’t expect him to go to the jail, take the keys and lock himself up.

              • Did he even try to turn himself in?
                And pensions typically aren’t subject to good behavior clauses. They represent deferred compensation for the work you already performed. Only in the public sector are they potentially subject to forfeiture in the event of a felony conviction. He deserves to lose income for future work, but not necessarily the deferred income he already earned for his past performance.

                • Of COURSE they aren’t subject to clauses; they are negotiated by soulless unions—stop thinking law. The point is that ethically, they have no business collecting more money for a position after they have proven themselves unworthy of it, especially a crooked cop. Parental obligations aren’t subject to clauses either…the kids still need Dads…another good reason not to break the law.The family suffers.

                  As you might guess, I’m not very sympathetic to felons feeling put upon istates that say they can’t vote, either.

                • Accounts say he “asked.” I don’t know what that means. He was in the system. I don’t see that he has an obligation to do the system’s administrators’ jobs for them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.