September 03. 2013 10:30PM

NH retirees to repay fraction of $500,000-plus in pension overpayments

New Hampshire Union Leader

Two former New Hampshire police officers who collected more than $500,000 in pension overpayments since they retired in 2001 were ordered to repay the state retirement system $20,000 each under a confidential agreement reached May 31 and made public Tuesday.

The settlement filed in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord also required Belknap County to repay the New Hampshire Retirement System $23,699.

The NHRS initially refused to release details of the confidential agreement last week. It made the documents public as a result of a Right-to-Know request filed Aug. 30 by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Attorney Kathleen Sullivan, representing the Union Leader, argued the public has a right to know whatever public funds were spent, recouped or administered as part of settlement agreements. The retirement system had outside counsel review the Right-to-Know request and released the agreement Tuesday — the first business day after it received the request.

The NHRS sought to recoup the pension payments after the retired officers began working full-time in other NHRS pension-eligible positions. The pensioners should have stopped receiving their pensions and started paying into the retirement system again, the NHRS decided.

The agreement was reached by the NHRS, retired police officers John M. Egan and Brian J. Loanes, and Belknap County. The NHRS signed off on the agreement June 18.

It requires Egan and Loanes to each repay $20,000 over 20 years through $83.33 monthly deductions from their retirement allowances. The deductions started in June.

Egan retired as a Meredith police officer in 2001 and now is community services coordinator for Belknap County. He had been ordered to repay an estimated $284,248 in pension overpayments to the retirement system, according to a Jan. 29, 2010 NHRS notice.

Loanes, who also retired in 2001 and now works as the director of Belknap County’s Restorative Justice Program, was told he had to repay $248,505 he owed the retirement system, according to a 2010 notice from NHRS.

Recoupment cases are legal proceedings in which a retiree has a right to multiple appeals, including the right to petition the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

“When a recoupment case is brought, the retirement system believes it has enough evidence to pursue both the recoupment of pension payments and the unpaid contributions,” NHRS spokesman Marty Karlon said in a statement.

“However, the parties involved have the right to present additional evidence and testimony to the NHRS hearings officer. In some cases, this additional evidence and/or testimony leads to a case being withdrawn by the NHRS or settled,” he said.

Karlon said this case was settled before the hearings officer made a final recommendation to the NHRS board for recoupment.

All parties agreed to drop their claims against each other under the agreement.