VERNON, Calif. (AP) — A former Vernon official convicted of misappropriating public funds has filed another lawsuit seeking to prevent the city from shrinking his annual pension from more than $500,000 to $115,000.
Bruce Malkenhorst has challenged the constitutionality of a new state law shielding local governments from lawsuits seeking to restore the retirement funds of felons.
His latest legal action targets California and the tiny Southern California city of Vernon, where he worked for 29 years as administrator, finance director, redevelopment director and clerk, among other positions, the Orange County Register reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1kywTA2 ).
Malkenhorst left in 2005 when he was charged with misappropriating funds. He had been paid as much as $911,000 a year and his pension was among the largest in the California retirement system.
A California Public Employees Retirement System audit in 2012 found Vernon officials improperly boosted the pensions of nearly two dozen top employees.
After he pleaded guilty, Malkenhorst's pension was slashed to $115,000 a year. He lost two other lawsuits seeking to prevent his $540,000 annual retirement payments from being reduced. Those cases are under appeal.
In September state lawmakers passed legislation that says officials convicted of felonies for actions they took in office still can appeal benefit changes to a public retirement system, but they cannot take legal action against a former employer.
The federal suit claims the law is unconstitutional "because it seeks to interfere with the vested property rights of a United States citizen, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge, even though the property that the government seeks to seize is property unrelated to the facts underlying the felony," according to a court filing cited by the Register.
Information from: The Orange County Register, http://www.ocregister.com