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updated: 4/14/2014 4:28 PM

New appeal in Naperville police chief pension case

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  • Robert Marshall

      Robert Marshall

 
 

The benefits package for Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall remains in question nearly two years after he was named to the position.

The Illinois attorney general's office has filed an appeal seeking to stop Marshall from collecting a police pension while he also is being paid as chief.

Filed April 4, the appeal follows a March 6 ruling by DuPage County Judge Paul Fullerton that Marshall should continue to receive his police pension while also getting his chief's salary. His salary is $154,775 a year, while his annual police pension is $104,129.

The ruling "allows Marshall to earn a full pension and a full salary, which is expressly prohibited by the pension code," Maura Possley, spokeswoman for the Illinois attorney general's office, said in an email. "Under the pension code, Marshall's pension payments should be suspended while he serves as police chief."

The appeal is the latest move in a case that began shortly after Marshall became chief on May 18, 2012. He took the position after spending 28 years as a Naperville police officer and seven years as Naperville's assistant city manager.

Marshall's time as a police officer made him eligible for a police pension, which he began receiving in 2005 when he became assistant city manager. He continued to receive the police pension in May 2012 when he was named police chief.

But by October of that year, the Illinois Department of Insurance had begun to challenge his ability to receive pension payouts, taking the position that Marshall had once again become a police officer, so the payments should cease until he retires.

The department of insurance sought review first from the Naperville Police Pension Board, which ruled that Marshall never technically resumed active service in the police force when he became chief. The department of insurance then appealed that ruling at the county court level, but Fullerton upheld it, writing "this court affirms the pension board's finding that Marshall's retirement pension payments shall not be suspended."

Marshall's attorney, Thomas Radja, said he doubts this latest appeal to the state appellate court in the second district will change the decision that Marshall is eligible to continue receiving his police pension. Nothing in state case law prevents it, and this is the first case to question the definition of a police officer under pension code, Radja said.

"I think the circuit court of DuPage County, in a well-reasoned opinion, indicated chief Marshall had not re-entered active service," Radja said.

While Marshall wears a badge and has all the arrest capabilities of a police officer, "when it comes to being a member of the pension fund, he doesn't meet that definition," Radja said.

While the appeal is pending, Marshall will continue to receive both his salary and his annual police pension.

However, one separate benefits issue remains. Marshall had been contributing to a second retirement system, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, since becoming assistant city manager. But the city in September 2012 told him he could not participate in that system while his police pension is being questioned.

Radja said the DuPage County court ruling indicated Marshall should be reinstated into the municipal retirement fund, but a decision is not likely to come until the police pension issue is settled.

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