In In the Matter of Thomas F. Fricano, Borough of Freehold, Docket No.: A-2280-07T3, the Appellate Division addressed Appellant Thomas Fricano’s appeal from final decisions of the Merit System Board (“Board”), dated September 27, 2007 and December 7, 2007, upholding his resignation in good standing from the Borough of Freehold Police Department.

By way of background, Fricano received a regular appointment as a police officer in Freehold on April 3, 2006. The appointment was subject to the successful completion of a one-year probationary working test period, commencing after completion of a police training course. On February 2, 2007, Fricano, in a written letter, resigned to pursue other opportunities in law enforcement. The appointing authority accepted the resignation, which was made effective February 22, 2007. 

The circumstances surrounding Fricano’s resignation are in dispute and at the core of the appeal. According to Fricano, on February 2, 2007, after having served ten months of his one-year probationary working term, he was summoned to the office of the Police Chief. Allegedly, the Chief ordered Fricano “to resign or be terminated immediately.” Denied his request for legal representation or to have a PBA representative present, Fricano drafted and submitted a letter of resignation under duress and coercion. Thereafter, on February 16, 2007, Fricano’s counsel wrote to the Chief requesting that he be able to rescind the resignation. The Borough attorney advised Fricano that he would not be reinstated, instead stating that “they could have fired him instead.” Subsequently, on March 13, 2007, Fricano was issued a preliminary notice of disciplinary action, charging him with numerous violations. On March 22, 2007, the appointing authority withdrew the charges and, thereafter, on March 28, 2007, issued Fricano a letter indicating that he did not satisfactorily complete his working test period and that he was being terminated effective April 3, 2007.

The Borough offers a different version. When called to his office, the Chief advised Fricano that his performance during the working test period had not been satisfactory, and, therefore, offered him the option to resign effective February 22 or face termination for failure to satisfactorily complete his working test period. This offer was made so that Fricano could avoid any stigma which might attach to an involuntary termination. Fricano decided to resign and submitted a resignation letter the same day. In the letter, Fricano explain that he resigned to pursue “a different choice in the Law Enforcement Career.” Although he did not work after February 2, he was paid through February 22, and his resignation was recorded effective February 22, 2007. After being subsequently informed of Fricano’s intention to challenge his resignation, the police department issued the preliminary notice of disciplinary action on March 13, 2007. On March 22, 2007, the police department withdrew the charges and, instead, as a cautionary measure, issued a letter to

Continue Reading Officer’s Resignation Not Attributed to Duress, Upheld

Recently, it has come to our attention that many individuals aside from Public Safety Officers utilize this website as a reference guide for the various pension systems available to individuals employed by municipalities, counties, and the New Jersey state government. As such, this entry will focus upon a few of these pension systems and help our readers understand their background, membrship, and administration.

Overview of the Various Pension Systems

Public Employees Retirement System

The State of New Jersey established the Public Employees Retirement System (“PERS”) in 1955 after repeal of the laws that created the former State Employees Retirement System. Like the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (“PFRS”), the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits is assigned all administrative functions of the retirement system except for investment of the assets.

The PERS Board of Trustees has the responsibility for the proper operation of the retirement system. The Board consists of six (6) employee representatives, the State Treasurer, and two (2) individuals appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate. The Board meets monthly to conduct its business. 

Membership in the retirement system is generally required as a condition of employment for most employees of the State or any county, municipality, school district, or public agency. Generally, an employee is required to enroll in PERS if:

·         They are employed on a regular basis in a position covered by Social Security;

·         Their annual salary is $1,500.00 or more; and

·         They are not required to be a member of any other State or local government retirement system on the basis of the same position which gives them membership in PERS.

Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund

The Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (“TPAF”) was established in 1919 and completely reorganized in 1955. The New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits is assigned all administrative function of the retirement system except for investment of the assets.

Continue Reading Overview of PERS, TPAF, SPRS & JRS