Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall should continue to collect his police pension while also receiving his chief's salary, a DuPage County judge ruled on Friday.
The written ruling issued by Judge Paul M. Fullerton upholds an earlier decision by the Naperville Police Pension Board.
"This court affirms the pension board's finding that Marshall's retirement pension payments shall not be suspended," Fullerton concluded in the 14-page ruling.
The judge also determined Marshall is entitled to receive his pension while continuing to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund as Naperville's police chief.
The Illinois Department of Insurance sought the judge's review after the local police pension board ruled in January 2013 that Marshall never re-entered active service in the police force when he was named chief.
On Friday, a spokesman for the department of insurance said he is "disappointed" with Fullerton's ruling and the department will "explore every avenue for an appeal to a higher court."
"The department's position is that Mr. Marshall has re-entered active service and that he should not be permitted to double dip," spokesman Mike Claffey wrote in an email. "This ruling that finds that the police chief is not a 'police officer' defies common sense."
But Margo Ely, Naperville's city attorney, says the judge's ruling proves the state department of insurance's interpretation of the pension law is incorrect.
"The city intervened in the police pension hearing originally because what the state department of insurance was asking for was inconsistent with what state law provided," Ely said.
She said the ruling maintains the status quo and won't have any fiscal impact on the city.
Marshall is paid $154,775 a year as chief. He also receives a $104,129 annual pension from his time as a Naperville police officer.
After spending 28 years as a Naperville officer, Marshall retired from police work in July 2005. That same month, he became Naperville's assistant city manager and started paying 5 percent of his earnings into IMRF for his second pension.
When he became chief in 2012, Marshall did not apply to re-enter the police pension fund. Instead, he decided to remain in IMRF because he already had earned seven years of IMRF credits.
Still, department of insurance officials took the position that Marshall became a police officer again when he was named chief. They wanted his pension payouts to cease until he retires as chief.
In September 2012, the city informed Marshall he couldn't participate in IMRF until the issue of whether he could receive his police pension while serving as chief was settled, Ely said. The IMRF matter is being handled separately from the judge's ruling, she said.
Attorneys representing Marshall argued that state pension law distinguishes between police officers and police chiefs and allows chiefs to continue collecting a pension while paying into another pension fund.
When the Naperville Police Pension Board reviewed the issues, the panel sided with Marshall.
Judge Fullerton affirmed the pension board's view that Marshall isn't a "police officer" as defined by the pension code. Therefore, the judge said, Marshall hasn't re-entered active service.
If the state department of insurance is unhappy with the ruling, Ely said it should look to legislators instead of the courts to try to change the law.