State pension officials, unhappy with a Naperville Police Pension Board ruling, are prepared to go to court to prevent Chief Robert Marshall from collecting his police pension while also earning his chief's salary.
The Illinois Department of Insurance is asking a DuPage County judge to review the local pension board's ruling that Marshall never re-entered active service in the police force by becoming chief.
A January ruling by the board allowed Marshall to continue collecting $98,148 annually from the fund he paid into during his 28-year police career. Since 2005, when he retired and was named assistant city manager, however, Marshall's second pension has been held in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
The board also ruled Marshall should be allowed to continue paying 5 percent of his earnings into the IMRF while still collecting his police pension and his current $151,000 salary.
The initial pension board hearing was prompted by the state department's position that Marshall is once again a police officer and his pension payouts must cease until he retires as chief. The state is now appealing the ruling.
According to the file complaint, state department officials believe the local board's ruling is "arbitrary and capricious, clearly erroneous, and against the manifest weight of the evidence."
Department spokeswoman Kimberly Parker restated the position in a Thursday afternoon email.
"We look forward to presenting our position in court, in that Chief Marshall has re-entered active service for the purposes of the pension fund, and that he therefore may not continue to receive his police pension while simultaneously in active service as a member of the Naperville police," she wrote.
Marshall's attorney, Thomas Radja, said he believes the state has an ulterior motive in its appeal and is confident the court will uphold the local pension board's ruling.
"As a matter of law, this should be over and done with," Radja said. "I think the department of insurance is trying to gain more enforcement authority over the pension code and using Chief Marshall as their poster boy is their way to do it."
Radja said he will be filing briefs in support of Marshall and indicating why he believes the pension board made the appropriate decision.
Detective Don Bisch, president of the Naperville Police Pension Board, said Thursday the board's attorney would also be filing a response to the state's appeal.
City Manager Doug Krieger said city officials believe the pension board made the correct decision based on the pension code.
"We have and will continue to have pension reform at the forefront of our legislative priorities and this is a great example of the need for reform," Krieger said. "The way to fix this issue is not to litigate but to legislate it by fixing the broken statute. The pension board made the right decision.
The appeal's first hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.