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Cuccinelli gives $30 million taken from criminals to help shore up state law enforcement retirement accounts
- Money from Abbott Labs settlement to help preserve critically underfunded retirement accounts -
RICHMOND (October 25, 2013) - In a Richmond news conference today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gave $30 million to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to help shore up two underfunded retirement accounts for state law enforcement officers. The $30 million is part of a criminal settlement stemming from a fraud investigation by Cuccinelli's office; the funds are not taxpayer money.
Cuccinelli said that in addition to helping Virginia keep its retirement funding promise to law enforcement, the retirement accounts need to be shored up to prevent problems with recruitment, morale, and retention.
"It's critical that these retirement funds be preserved so that they can continue to provide the retirement benefits that were promised to public safety officers who have faithfully served their fellow Virginians," said Cuccinelli.
"If Virginia's retirement systems for state law enforcement officers are not on secure financial footing, it could lead to problems in recruitment, morale, and retention that would ultimately have a profoundly negative impact on public safety. These contributions are one way to help," the attorney general said.
VRS maintains two funds for state law enforcement. The State Police Officers' Retirement System (SPORS) is for retired Virginia State Police officers. The Virginia Law Officers' Retirement System (VaLORS) is for Capitol police officers, campus police officers, conservation officers of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, ABC special agents, marine resources officers, state correctional officers, state juvenile correctional officers, state parole officers, and commercial vehicle enforcement officers of the State Police.
The funds are two of the most underfunded of the VRS accounts. Cuccinelli presented checks for $15 million to VRS for each account.
Cuccinelli presented the two $15 million checks to Robert "Bob" Schultze, director of VRS, and Diana Cantor, chairman of the VRS board of trustees, along with members of the Virginia Capitol Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, Marine Resources Commission, Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Department of Corrections, Alcoholic Beverage Control, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Police Department, and Virginia State University Police Department.
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The $30 million is part of the attorney general's $115 million in asset forfeiture proceeds earned from a national Medicaid fraud investigation his office led against Abbott Laboratories, Inc. Besides restitution to the state's Medicaid program and penalties, Abbott paid the forfeiture as part of a 2012 settlement.
While the Abbott asset forfeiture money is the attorney general's office's to keep, Cuccinelli has been making plans for more than a year to use $105 million of the $115 million for grants to state and local police and sheriffs' departments to buy needed equipment such as bulletproof vests, tactical vehicles, and police cars. He is also earmarking money for continuing training for law enforcement and local prosecutors.
The Virginia-led Medicaid fraud investigation led to the second largest Medicaid fraud settlement in U.S. history at the time. In May 2012, Abbott Laboratories Inc. pled guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the federal government and the states to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the company's unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.
While SPORS and VaLORS are for state law enforcement officers, local sheriffs and police are employed by their local jurisdictions and are under separate retirement systems. Their jurisdictions may be members of VRS or the jurisdictions may manage their own retirement accounts. Local law enforcement retirement funds are generally not segregated from the rest of their fellow public employees' funds like they are for state law enforcement.