Ex-state senator James Marzilli loses bid for enhanced pension but will receive annual pension
The state Retirement Board today approved a standard pension for former state senator James Marzilli, who was convicted of accosting four women in Lowell in 2008. The panel acted after rejecting Marzilli’s request for an enhanced pension under an old state law that increased benefits for incumbents who lost an election.
Both votes by the board were 4-0 with the fifth member, Patricia Deal abstaining because she is an Arlington resident who had professional dealings with Marzilli. He represented Arlington in both the House and Senate, before he resigned from the Senate in November 2008.
In voting to grant Marzilli a standard pension, the board endorsed a hearing officer’s conclusion that Marzilli’s crimes were not connected to his official duties and could not be forced to forfeit his pension under state law.
Marzilli contributed to the state pension plan for 23 years and 5 months during a career in Arlington municipal government, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. A Democrat, Marzilli’s career came to a crashing halt after he was arrested by Lowell police for accosting four women during a four hour span on June 3, 2008.
In 2011, Marzilli pleaded guilty to four counts of annoying/accosting a person of the opposite sex, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest and was sentenced to 90 days in the Middlesex House of Correction, a term he has since completed.
Before the criminal case was resolved, Marzilli resigned his state Senate seat on Nov. 14, 2008, and then filed for the “termination’’ pension on Nov. 22, 2008. Under a law that has since been repealed, incumbents like Marzilli could get an increase in their pension if they lost their jobs at the next election.
While Marzilli was on the September 2008 ballot, he had publicly announced he was not running for re-election and ultimately finished third in primary voting.
Today the board rejected the “termination” pension request.
Marzilli’s attorney, Nicholas Poser, applauded the board for keeping Marzill’s standard pension intact despite his criminal convictions.
“I think they did justice today,’’ said Poser, an Boston attorney who specializes in state pension law. “They were quite right in granting him his pension rights and not taking them away.’’
But Poser said the board was wrong to deny Marzilli the enhanced pension and vowed to appeal the adverse decision to the Contributory Retirement Appeals Board. He said that since Marzilli was on the 2008 primary ballot and lost, he qualifies for the higher pension as a matter of law.
Marzilli will receive an annual pension of about $14,000 a year, and would have collected about $26,000 a year if the board had approved a “termination” pension that Marzilli sought as a lawmaker who failed to be re-elected, according to board official Nicola Favorito.
John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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