A Buchanan litigation team, including Gerald E. Burns, Robert J. Fitzgerald, Grace D. Greenhall and Cheri Pearce, was heavily featured in media outlets on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 7 and 8, in connection with their representation of the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) in a case involving Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky appeared before a state pension hearing examiner via video feed from prison in an effort to keep his $4,900-a-month pension. The pension was nullified owing to an amendment in the law which “takes away the pension of any public employee who commits certain crimes related to their public office or public employment,” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
On behalf of SERS, the Buchanan team argued that the crimes for which Sandusky was convicted with respect to Victims 1 and 9 occurred after Sept. 13, 2004 – the date on which the pension forfeiture act was amended and that Sandusky was a de facto PSU employee after he ceased coaching football. Lawyers on behalf of Sandusky are arguing that Sandusky never received remuneration from Penn State after his 1999 retirement and that he was not a “public employee” under the Act.
ABC News reported “[d]uring [Steve Bizar’s] cross examination, Sandusky was grilled about his special relationship with PSU and its ties to the Second Mile foundation. Sandusky was asked why most Second Mile activities involved PSU and how he still had access to use campus facilities, on-field football game access, free parking pass, paid phones and free merchandise at no cost.” According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Buchanan team, representing SERS, “sought to show that the Second Mile benefited greatly from access to Penn State.” Bizar “called Sandusky an ambassador.”
Jerry Burns had subpoenaed former PSU Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Timothy Curley to testify, but both invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and did not appear to testify. They are awaiting criminal trial.
While the decision in the case is not expected for some time, the hearing examiner will make a recommendation to the SERS Board. Their decision can then be appealed to Commonwealth Court.
See media coverage below:
Read the Post-Gazette article here.