Lawyers for former Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne were in court Tuesday trying to save Jenne’s $134,500-a-year pension.
Convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and income tax evasion in 2007, Jenne is arguing that the federal crimes he admitted do not constitute grounds for the forfeiture of the pension he earned during his days as a state legislator, prosecutor, lawyer and sheriff.
The State Division of Retirement ordered Jenne to forfeit all retirement benefits when he resigned shortly before pleading guilty to federal felonies. A state hearing officer upheld the decision last year.
Now Jenne is asking the First District Court of Appeal to overturn the hearing officer and follows a 1981 decision involving former Department of Natural Resources Director Harmon Shields who tried to keep his pension after being convicted of a federal conspiracy. Shields was convicted of trying to extort $235,000 from a real estate agent involved in state land purchases.
The federal crimes Jenne admitted do not include a breach of the public trust that would lead to the loss of his pension, argued lawyer Tom Findley as he compared Jenne’s legal problems with other public officials who have been allowed to keep their pensions. A three-judge panel sharply questioned Findley but did not immediately issue a decision.
-- Lucy Morgan