Public workers convicted of felonies still receive pension

Hawaii State Capitol

We’re learning more about a state worker who remains employed while serving time in prison for possessing child pornography.

KHON2 was the first to report on Randy Honebrink’s status in the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

He’s still employed, and he’s using his vacation leave time to serve his prison sentence.

Honebrink is expected to return to work as an education coordinator after completing his sentence next month.

Officials told us he will not be in contact with children.

In light of this discovery we wanted to know if a government employee convicted of a felony can still receive a pension.

While each state has different laws dealing with pensions and crimes committed, in Hawaii those convicted of a felony who work for the city or state still receive their pension.

But it’s an issue that soon could come up in the next legislative session.

“This is certainly an issue that in light of the recent situation with the DLNR employee that is on the minds of many people,” said Senator Will Espero, who sits on the judiciary and labor committee.

The question is can a government employee still receive a pension if they’ve been convicted of a felony and the answer is yes.

“They will continue to receive that pension,” said Wesley Machida, the executive director for the state’s Employees’ Retirement System or ERS.

He says pensions have recently been a topic of discussion.

“As a result of a number of high profile cases that we’ve seen, it was thought that there should be a proposal or initiative,” said Machida.

So a bill was drafted that says if a city, county or state employee was convicted of a felony while on the the job they could lose their pension.

“Their benefit or the accruing of that benefit could be reduced, but the courts would determine that,” said Machida.

That proposed bill did not pass in the 2014 legislative session, but could be brought up again.

“It’s possible that it could come up.” said Sen. Espero. “I’d have to talk with some of my colleagues and some of the key chairmen to see where past initiatives stalled and whether they believe those obstacles could be overcome.”

It is a proposed bill that will have to be looked at in great detail because it deals with employee rights.

“It will depend on the crime, when it happened and how it happened and those are the complex details that we’d have to take a serious look at,” said Sen. Espero.

But it’s certainly an issue that will get a look.

“I think that there’s a number of people that want to take a look at this,” said Machida.

 

 

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