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Borough Official: Becker Not ‘Eligible’ for Pension

The former veteran police officer left his Hatboro post with $7,200 and the money he contributed to his pension.

Even after Hatboro officials as a criminal investigation got underway, the borough continued to pay his medical insurance and bi-weekly child support, an official told Patch.

The payments continued, according to the source, until . Besides the health insurance payment, $394 was paid to Harrisburg every other week to cover child support on behalf of Becker. Upon his resignation in June, the borough reportedly paid Becker $7,200 for accumulated sick pay, vacation and holiday time.

But, , is not “eligible” for a police pension, Borough Manager Steven Plaugher said Friday.

“When he resigned from the force in June 2011, he opted to withdraw his pension contributions rather than vest them,” Plaugher wrote in an email. “All police employees who leave prior to their eligible retirement date have that option.”

Plaugher said officers are entitled to their own personal contributions plus interest. Any money provided by Hatboro would “stay in the fund,” Plaugher said.

In order to collect the borough’s match, Becker, a decorated officer with 17 years on the force, would have had to retire, Plaugher said.

There’s not any taxypayer money going back to him for his pension contribution,” Plaugher said. after Becker's resignation, said he was not "aware" of medical insurance contributions, child support payments, or the $7,200 pay out. 

"I'm not seeing that," Plaugher said.

Moving forward, Plaugher said new procedures have been put in place to better safeguard items in the police department’s evidence locker.

“The new evidence room policy is similar to the previous policy, with the addition of increased auditing of the evidence room by the Chief of Police, and a third party system, where Upper Moreland Police will conduct an independent audit of Hatboro’s Police evidence room,” Plaugher wrote. “A new video surveillance camera has been added to the evidence room area.”

Hatboro Police Chief James Gardner told Patch Friday that the new policy took effect in May 2011. Part of that procedure, Gardner said, involves “unannounced inspections,” as well as scheduled audits. 

“The fact is you’re still going to have people involved,” Gardner said. “When you have humans involved – they’re certainly fallible.”

According to the criminal complaint against Becker, Gardner told authorities during questioning in June 2011 that he and Becker were “the only employees with keys and combination to the evidence room and storage areas.”

Gardner declined to comment to Patch about how Becker would have allegedly been able to steal 10 guns, more than $18,000 in cash, an Omega watch valued at $2,700 and narcotics worth more than $2,000 from evidence storage without anyone realizing it.

During the time when some of Becker’s alleged misdeeds were carried out, Gardner was serving in a joint role as police chief and borough manager. Some Patch users have questioned why Gardner did not provide more oversight. Gardner said the dual role did not limit his role in the police department.

“I was the chief 100 percent of the time,” Gardner said. “I was the borough manager too.”

Daisy May 18, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Let's play the hypothetical game. Wad the Chief unaware of that evidence missing for all of that time or perhaps there were others accessing the room? Or was the list inflated because there was no real way to track what was missing? Or since so many in that department knew of the officer's addiction and lack of organization of the evidence room, would also be easy to take advantage of that and perhaps dip in every once in awhile. You all watch crime shows...don't be so quick to assume that the officer with the addiction problem was all to blame here. Just saying - think outside the charges pressed by the same people who overlooked his addiction for 2 years and need to still sleep at night.
World_Be_Good May 19, 2012 at 05:32 AM
We all know those in charge looked the other way until it got out of hand, THEN started investigating him (inciuding his departmental tasks). I blame first and foremost Officer John Becker, he was on the Montgomery County Drug Task Force, which gives him even more exposure to this situation then most cops, Secondly his Chief and co-workers, who I am sure knew there were issues (maybe not to this extent). Finally let the Judicial System do it job and hopefully this is a wake-up call to all involved and for the next rogue cop, who decides to take this path.... I have firsthand knowledge that what you hear/read in the media is not always true, so unless you have actually firsthand knowledge of all the details, we are all just speculating from what we hear/read from the media... "Can't we all just get along", as quote our times greatest criminal philosophers Mr. Rodney King...
Bridget Morawski May 21, 2012 at 04:45 PM
He shouldn't even be allowed to retire/resign with whatever scrap of dignity he can pull out of this mess. He should have been fired, not given any sort of respect. This sort of behavior taints the honorable position at which other police officers are held to.
Keyser Soze May 21, 2012 at 10:39 PM
He did not "retire/resign", he resigned. Those ends of employment are completely different. If he "retired", that would indicate that he would be attempting to vest his pension and receive its payments at whatever reduced rate he would be eligible. Which, the Borough would then have to pay attorneys umpteen thousands of dollars to argue that he is ineligible to collect a pension from a municipal government job due to the crimes in this incident. If he was fired, then that opens a whole pandora's box as far as what rights a fired employee has, especially a civil service position. He could contest the firing and the borough would have to spend umpteen thousand dollars on attorneys to try and uphold the termination. But, since he resigned, all of it goes away. No attempt to vest a pension under a retirement, no legal fight over wrongful termination (firing). His resignation saved everyone, including you if you are a taxes paying Hatboro resident, a lot of headaches.

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