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Retirement Board of Somerville v. Buonomo, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-062-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA 02108-1750;  (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     SJC‑11413   RETIREMENT BOARD OF SOMERVILLE  vs.  JOHN BUONOMO & others.[1]   Middlesex.     January 9, 2014.  ‑  April 2, 2014. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Retirement.  Public Employment, Forfeiture of retirement benefits.  Register of Probate.  Practice, Civil, Action in nature of certiorari.     Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on July 20, 2010.   Motions for judgment on the pleadings were heard by Thomas R. Murtagh, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.   Matthew J. Buckley for the plaintiff. Nicholas Poser for the defendant.       SPINA, J.  In 2009, John Buonomo was convicted of eighteen counts of breaking into a depository, G. L. c. 266, § 16, eight counts of larceny under $ 250, G. L. c. 266, § 30 (1), and eight counts of embezzlement by a public officer, G. L. c. 266, § 51.  He committed these offenses during the time that he held office as register of probate of Middlesex County.  At issue is whether, pursuant to G. L. c. 32, § 15, and as a consequence of his convictions, Buonomo forfeited the retirement allowance that he previously had earned as a member of the board of aldermen for the city of Somerville.  Based on the language and intent of G. L. c. 32, § 15 (4), inserted by St. 1987, c. 697, § 47, we conclude that even though Buonomo’s convictions involved violations of the laws applicable to his office or position as register of probate, he nonetheless forfeited his entitlement to a retirement allowance from the retirement board of Somerville (board) related to his prior service as a member of the board of aldermen.  There is no requirement in § 15 (4) that the public office to which a member’s criminal convictions relate be the same as the public office from which that member is receiving a retirement allowance.  Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Superior Court that reached a contrary conclusion. 1.  Statutory framework.  The provisions of G. L. c. 32, § 15, pertain to dereliction of duty by a member of a contributory retirement system for public employees.  See State Bd. of Retirement v. Bulger, 446 Mass. 169, 170 (2006).  General Laws c. 32, § 15 (4), provides: “In no event shall any member after final conviction of a criminal offense involving violation of the laws applicable to his office […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm

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