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Uncle Scott Bevan’s “Little Stripers"

Conflicts Controversy Plague Year-Old Criminal Investigation Of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Investigative Report by Mark Lagerkvist

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick…

Is it the sound of time passing on a conflicted, year-old criminal investigation of an alleged $245,000 pension fraud involving New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno?

Or is it the countdown to an embarrassing scandal for her boss, Gov. Chris Christie — a rising political star who declared pension reform as his “biggest governmental victory?”

As a county sheriff in 2008, Guadagno made false statements to enable her chief officer to pocket nearly $85,000 a year in retirement pay while drawing an $87,500 annual salary. The double-dipping scheme first was reported by New Jersey Watchdog in 2010.

The state’s investigation is assigned to the Attorney’s General’s Division of Criminal Justice, a unit where Guadagno once served as deputy director. Despite the apparent conflict, Christie has not appointed a special prosecutor.

A spokesman for Christie and Guadagno refused comment. The Attorney General’s Office did not respond to questions.

Public pension abuses are so rampant in New Jersey that even the agency investigating Guadagno has its own controversy.

Twenty-three supervisors and investigators for the Attorney General and DCJ are using legal loopholes to draw salaries and pension pay, New Jersey Watchdog found. On average, each pockets $164,000 a year — $96,000 in salary and $68,000 in pension.

Most “retired” for just one night. Those officers left their positions with the Attorney General only to return to the same employer the next morning with new job titles — and two paychecks instead of one.

In a continuing series of investigative reports, New Jersey Watchdog exposed similar double-dipping practices involving 125 officers employed by prosecutors, 18 officials from a state Homeland Security Unit and 44 county sheriffs and undersheriffs — in addition to the Guadagno story.

State Sen. Fred Madden is a “triple-dipper” who collects more than $241,000 a year from public coffers — $49,000 as a legislator, $106,983 as a police academy dean and an $85,272 pension as a State Police retiree.