Reports by NBC News and New Jersey Watchdog reveal that Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura has netted more than $1 million in retirement income during his 22-year tenure as sheriff, a sum that Watchdog said makes him the “dean of double-dippers.”
Fontoura is running for reelection to another three-year term next month.
Double-dipping is a practice whereby one person simultaneously receives a government salary and a pension. Fontoura, along with nearly every other county sheriff in the state, retired from one job before getting elected sheriff and began collecting a pension, which he continued to collect even after he began earning his sheriff’s salary.
The practice is legal, despite recent reforms designed to control costs in the state pension system.
Fontoura recently earned $137,000 a year in salary and collects a $62,000 annual pension, Watchdog reported. Essex County Undersheriff Jesus Padilla earns $145,000 in pension and salary.
Altogether, 51 county law enforcement officers across the state, who collectively earn more than $9 million a year, are receiving public salaries and collecting public pensions simultaneously.
Some county law enforcement officials collect far more than Fontoura: Bergen County’s sheriff received $267,000 in salary and pension last year.