The State Retirement Board ruled Thursday that Thomas M. Finneran, the former House speaker who pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in 2007, is not entitled to a government pension.
The board said that Finneran, a Democratic state representative from 1979 to 2004, forfeited his right to retirement benefits when he was convicted of a criminal offense related to his public position.
Finneran pleaded guilty in US District Court to providing false testimony in a redistricting lawsuit.
“The facts show that the the link between Mr. Finneran’s position and the offense for which he was convicted is both direct and clear,” the ruling stated. “It is irrefutable that Mr. Finneran was acting in his official capacity when he took the actions that gave rise to this conviction.”
Finneran would have collected a pension of almost $33,000 this year. Under the decision, Finneran will be able to recoup about $89,000 in contributions he made to the plan, but cannot receive $32,000 in accumulated interest.
The Retirement Board voted on a recommendation from a lawyer for the state treasurer’s office. Finneran’s lawyer could not be reached for comment Thursday. Finneran can appeal the decision in court.
In 2002, opponents of redrawn electoral districts filed a court challenge, contending that the voting power of minority voters had been diluted. Finneran and other top state officials were named as defendants. Finneran was indicted in 2005 on a charge of providing false testimony about his involvement in the redistricting plans.
Finneran was fined $25,000 and agreed not to run for office for five years.
“Mr. Finneran’s duties as a legislator and the mandate of his oath thus gave him a heightened obligation to be forthcoming with the court, in order to enable it to make a fair decision on the questions before it,” the decision stated.
Finneran received pension payments in 2005 and 2006.
In 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court upheld a decision that stripped Finneran of his law license. He had argued that he should retain it because he was not acting as a lawyer when he lied under oath.Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.