An Illinois Appellate Court recently upheld a pension
board’s decision rescinding a firefighter’s retirement pension benefits due to a felony conviction.
v. City of Burbank Firefighter’s Pension Fund

A city firefighter retired in 2017 after allegations were raised that he had an inappropriate relationship with a high school intern cadet
at the fire department. The Pension Fund Board (Board) approved the firefighter’s application for a retirement pension in
2017. In 2020, the firefighter pled guilty to knowingly possessing child
pornography by soliciting sexually explicit photos and videos from a high
school cadet while he was employed as a city firefighter.

The Board held a hearing to determine if the firefighter’s
felony conviction forfeited his right to pension benefits under the Pension
Code. The firefighter argued the Board lacked jurisdiction to hold a revocation
hearing since the Board did not appeal its initial decision awarding the
firefighter pension benefits in 2017. The Board rejected that argument, finding that the felony conviction was
related to firefighter’s service as a city firefighter, and issuing a
decision revoking the firefighter’s pension benefits.

On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the Board’s decision
revoking the firefighter’s pension benefits. The Court rejected the
firefighter’s argument that the Board lacked jurisdiction to hold the
revocation hearing, determining that the revocation hearing was a new hearing
authorized by the Pension Code and not an appeal of the initial hearing. Based on the Pension Code, the Appellate Court held that a pension board
has the authority to hold new hearings to divest a firefighter of pension benefits
for conviction of service-related felonies without needing to appeal the
initial award of pension benefits.

Post Authored by Tyler Smith, Ancel Glink