It’s bad enough that Keith Foster shamed his badge and reneged on his sworn promise to uphold the law by dealing heroin and marijuana while receiving nearly $15,000 a month from taxpayers to be Fresno’s deputy police chief.
Even worse, Foster will keep the $93,000-plus annual pension he started drawing after his March 26, 2015, arrest by federal agents and subsequent resignation from the Fresno Police Department.
Think about it. While Foster is fed and receives medical care at taxpayers’ expense in prison, he will draw fat pension checks made possible by taxpayer contributions.
I’d like to know how we got there and how we can fix it.
City Councilman Paul Caprioglio
“The No. 2 police officer in the city of Fresno is dealing heroin and he gets to keep his pension? That’s atrocious,” City Councilman Garry Bredefeld said Wednesday. “Certainly, he needs to lose his pension.”
If you think there ought to be a law against this, you’re right.
In fact, the California Legislature passed such a law as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension reform efforts.
The law is titled the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) and it went into effect Jan. 1 of that year – too late to apply, for example, to former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona who is collecting $218,000 a year while serving federal time for witness tampering.
In a nutshell, the law requires pension forfeiture for all public employees convicted of a job-related felony.
So how come Foster, who was found guilty Tuesday, gets to keep his pension?
I will let City Hall spokesman Mark Standriff explain.
“There are no provisions in the retirement sections of the Fresno Municipal Code that would eliminate an individual’s pension due to a felony.” Standriff says in an email.
“Since the city of Fresno is a charter city, we are not governed under the provisions of the PEPRA Act. Therefore, the PEPRA provisions do not apply to our retirement systems.”
In other words, City Hall was asleep at the wheel when the Legislature and the governor passed a righteous law aimed at stopping crooked public officials and employees from inflicting more harm by continuing to eat from the public trough.
The No. 2 police officer in the city of Fresno is dealing heroin and he gets to keep his pension? That’s atrocious.
City Councilman Garry Bredefeld
I asked City Councilman Paul Caprioglio what he thought about Foster cashing city pension checks until the day he dies.
“I’ve already had people ask me about that,” Caprioglio said. “I’d like to know how we got there and how we can fix it.”
Caprioglio said that putting Fresno in sync with state law wasn’t broached in 2013. Neither the city’s pension office nor city manager said a word about it, he told me.
Now that it’s out in the open, Mayor Lee Brand and the City Council must do what’s needed to ensure that future felons who violate the public’s trust or steal from public coffers don’t cash in more while locked up in the pen.
Perhaps the only person in Fresno who believes that a drug-dealing cop should keep his $93,000-a-year pension is Keith Foster.