Russo's benefits slashed

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Former Hoboken Mayor Anthony Russo, who is serving a 30-month federal prison term for mail fraud, was dealt a personal setback yesterday as trustees of the state's public employees retirement fund slashed his pension benefits and canceled his public health insurance coverage.

Russo, whose $3,884 per-month benefits had earlier been suspended for the duration of his imprisonment, was denied pension credit for the two terms he served as Hoboken mayor.

The reduction means that instead of logging 31 years in the pension system, Russo, 59, now will be credited with only 23 years. The cut means that Russo no longer qualifies for state-funded health insurance.

Russo has had lung, brain and adrenal cancer.

By disqualifying the salaries he earned as mayor from his retirement calculations, the board's decision means Russo's final retirement pay will be based on an average salary of $51,860 instead of $93,436.

Combined with the cut in his years of service, the changes reduce the benefits Russo will qualify for after he turns 60 in December from $53,256 per year to $22,464, according to estimates provided by the state Department of Treasury.

Russo's attorney, Vincenza Leonelli-Spina, said the action by the trustees of the Public Employees Retirement System will be appealed to the Office of Administrative Law.

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