JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man who used to oversee Jacksonville’s notoriously underfunded Police and Fire Pension Fund is demanding the city pay him his full pension, including $46,000 the mayor ordered stopped earlier this year.
John Keane, who retired last fall as executive director of the fund, was slated to receive more than $225,000 in retirement payments from an additional "senior staff" retirement plan that the pension fund board created for him and two others. In April, Mayor Lenny Curry, acting on a legal opinion from the General Counsel's Office, ordered the payments stopped, saying the pension was never authorized by the city of Jacksonville and unlawfully funded.
Keane's attorney, William Sheppard, wrote a letter to a pension fund board saying Keane deserved his full pension and threatened to sue for that money, plus damages of $5,416.47 per pay period. Ultimately, a judge could decide who is right.
Keane wouldn't talk about the matter Friday, saying he was advised not to discuss it, but attorney Sheppard contends that Keane met all the requirements to receive the full value of the additional pension.
"Per Mr. Keane's employment contract with the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund, Mr. Keane was entitled to receive all benefits of the SSVRP (Senior Staff Voluntary Retirement Plan) as adopted by the (board) on September 20, 2000," Sheppard wrote. "If you do not tender these funds in 10 days, we will institute actions against you for theft."
The pension board met Friday, but did not discuss Sheppard's letter. The man who replaced Keane, Executive Director Timothy Johnson, said he had not yet reviewed the letter with the board.
"I received it late yesterday and had a chance to peruse it, but I do not have any background on this situation," Johnson said.
Asked for comment Curry's spokeswoman, Marsha Oliver, released a statement:
This is a matter currently under legal review, which does not afford us the opportunity to discuss. Nevertheless, we stand confidently by our position and actions. The mayor’s goal in this, and all he does, is to protect taxpayers while following the letter of the law.”
Jacksonville City Council filed a lawsuit against Keane and the Pension Fund board seeking to halt the pension payments and recover contributions made since he retired last September. In his executive action, Curry ordered the lawsuit to be dropped.