Terrance Hoffman, 65, of Shirley, pleaded guilty Tuesday at the Nassau County Court to a felony charge of permitting the falsification of records of the retirement system. Officials said Hoffman was obtaining pension payments unlawfully from 1996 to 2012. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, he has agreed to repay $465,647.
Investigators said Hoffman had collected the pension payments while he was also earning a $112,000 salary as a full-time employee at Nassau Community College. According to authorities, Hoffman retired from his job as a Suffolk County police detective-sergeant and then took a job with the public college, but allegedly didn’t obtain a waiver that allowed him to above the legal earning limitations that apply to public retirees collecting a pension, according to prosecutors. He is also accused of joining an optional retirement program while he still collected a full pension – a violation of state law – according to a joint news release from Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
DiNapoli called Hoffman’s actions “an egregious exploitation of public funds.” In a statement, Rice said the public retirement programs are “a critical part of our safety net for the retirees and their families.” She said they are “not a piggy bank for those looking for those looking to game the system while drawing a higher salary than the law allows.”
Hoffman’s attorney, Thomas Spreer, told Newsday his client was a respected police officer who retired to pursue an academic career. He said Hoffman retired from the Suffolk Police Robbery Squad and has a passion for the academic end of policing. “He’s devastated,” the defense lawyer said of his client.
Officials said the investigation was allowable under a law which gives the state comptroller access to the state tax department’s wage reporting system. That access allegedly allowed investigators to identify state retirees who are working for local governments and whose earning exceed legal limitations. Hoffman is due back in court on Sept. 10 for sentencing.