Daily News puts end to felons' pensions

Posted: September 28, 2011

THE GRAVY TRAIN ended yesterday for three convicted felons who had been collecting city pensions for years.

The city Board of Pensions and Retirement voted to disqualify Walter Helinksy, former mounted police officer, Casimir Lutz, former Police Department blacksmith and former Officer Martin Williams.

Their pensions were reviewed after a July Daily News report that listed eight ex-city employees who were collecting pensions despite felony convictions.

Since then, the city has moved to disqualify five of those eight pensioners.

Helinksy, convicted in 2003 of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, has received $322,278 in benefits.

Lutz and Williams, who each pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2002, have received $236,051 and $296,325 respectively.

All were disqualifed under city or state pension rules.

The city code says that city employees can lose benefits if they are found guilty of perjury, bribery, corruption, theft, embezzlement or malfeasance in connection with their city job.

Two other ex-city workers who are not now collecting pensions were also disqualified from the system yesterday.

Meanwhile, an aide for a Northeast Philadelphia state representative, said legislation is expected to be introduced on Oct. 7 that would amend the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act.

The bill would prohibit public officials or public employees from collecting a public pension if they are convicted of, or plead guilty to, any offense committed against a minor that requires them to register as sex offenders under the state's Megan's Law.

Democratic state Reps. Brendan and Kevin Boyle, who are brothers, announced their intention to sponsor the legislation on July 27, several days after the Daily News reported that a number of former city employees convicted of sex crimes against underage children - including Helinsky - were still collecting pensions.

Seventeen other state representatives, including four Republicans, have agreed to sign on as co-sponsors of the legislation, said Kristen Womelsdorf, a legislative assistant for Brendan Boyle.

She said companion legislation is also being sponsored in the state Senate by Sen. Larry Farnese, a South Philadelphia Democrat.

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