Police officer sues city over pension

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

A veteran city police officer has filed a lawsuit alleging that the city has not accurately reported his earnings to the Virginia Retirement System.

Officer John K. Cooke, in a lawsuit filed late Wednesday in Suffolk Circuit Court, charges that the city has classified some of his income as &uot;supplemental…in order to avoid reporting such compensation and therefore being responsible for less VRS contributions&uot; on his behalf.

The state uses the last 36 months of service to compute the retirement of senior employees like Cooke, said Norfolk attorney Michael Imprevento, who is representing the officer.

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According to the suit, the General Assembly considers overtime and other supplemental a part of that figure.

&uot;Full compensation means full compensation,&uot; said Imprevento. &uot;I believe the statute is clear and needs to be followed.

&uot;…The city is arbitrarily reporting a lower amount for these people,&uot;

he said.

&uot;…He (Officer Cooke) wants an accurate accounting of what he is entitled to at retirement.&uot;

The outcome of Cooke’s suit is likely to impact the future of other city officers, Imprevento said.

&uot;This could mean a lot of money for recent retirees and others who are about to retire,&uot; he said.

Although the city was asked to investigate in January, neither of the two responses contained substantive information, Imprevento said.

Imprevento expects to proceed with the case within the next few weeks. The city will have 21 days to file a response once it is served with the suit, probably within the next two days, he said.

Late Wednesday, Dennis Craff, the city’s spokesman, declined to comment, and said he was unfamiliar with the suit.

Efforts to reach City Attorney Edward Roettger and City Manager R. Steven Herbert were unsuccessful.