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Watertown retirement officials pursuing pension forfeiture of convicted retired officer

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  September 18, 2013 05:15 PM

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Watertown retirement officials today scheduled a pension forfeiture hearing for Nov. 20 for a retired Watertown police sergeant who was convicted on drug charges in federal court last month.

Joseph Deignan, 58, of Framingham, pleaded guilty last month in federal court to stealing an ID while on the force, and using it to obtain oxycodone and other prescription drugs, according to the office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

He was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance by fraud, and fraud in connection with identification documents, the prosecutor’s office said.

Federal authorities said that Deignan had stolen a driver’s license while working as a traffic supervisor in 2010 and used it to obtain over 100 forged prescriptions.

He is slated for sentencing in federal court Nov. 15. His pension forfeiture hearing will come 5 days later at 8:30 a.m. at Watertown Town Hall.

Deignan's pension attorney, Nicholas Poser(CQ), said that he expected the Watertown Retirement Board to give his client "a thorough and thoughtful review" and said he hoped the board would not take away Deignan's pension.

"Hopefully his pension is not forfeited because his conviction had nothing to do with his job as a Watertown police officer, which he was for over 25 years," Poser said.

Watertown retirement officials said Deignan, who served on the department for 32 years, has been collecting an annual pension of $55,731 since his retirement in February 2012.

If Deignan's convictions are found to relate to his former job as police sergeant, town officials could try to take away his pension under state retirement law, said Thomas Gibson, the Retirement Board's lawyer.

Gibson previously said that the board could also decide to take away Deignan's pension retroactively to the time of the crime - which Gibson said would be determined by court documents - under new state pension legislation that was signed into law in 2011.

Gibson said today that the board has collected all the necessary documents, including Deignan's plea colloquy, to pursue the pension forfeiture hearing.

The hearing will be open to the public, and Gibson said there will most likely be a decision that same day.

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