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Former ABC Admin's Pension Safe Despite Felony Conviction

After being convicted for taking property by false pretenses, a former North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) administrator is still able to receive his full pension. As of December 1, 2012, a public employee will forfeit his or her pension benefits if convicted of a felony that is related to his or her public position. The law exempts the contributions made by the employee and any and interest earned on those contributions.

Billy Williams, former ABC administrator in New Hanover County, was convicted on a white collar crime charging that he submitted a false invoice to the ABC Board for work he had done on his own home. The invoice falsely billed the Board for over $43,000 worth of work.

North Carolina's pension forfeiture law requires that the crime of which a public worker is convicted must be related to his or her job in order for a pension to be stripped upon conviction. According to the State Employees Association of North Carolina, the job-crime correlation is only fair. "This is not a gift from tax payers to employees, these employees have earned their retirement," noted Ardis Watkins, legislative affairs director for the State Employees Association.

North Carolina General Statutes § 135‑18.10 covers forfeiture of retirement benefits for elected officials. A felony conviction for either a state or federal crime can result in pension forfeiture for a public official for acts committed prior to December 1.

Source: WRAL, "Former ABC chief gets pension despite conviction," December 15, 2012

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