Garney v. Mass. Teachers' Ret. Sys.Annotate this Case
For over twenty years, Plaintiff worked as a ninth grade science teacher. In 2004, Plaintiff was arrested for the purchase and possession of child pornography. In 2006, Plaintiff resigned his position. In 2007, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to eleven counts of purchasing and possessing child pornography. After his arrest but prior to his plea and sentencing, Plaintiff filed a retirement application with the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS). Plaintiff received retirement benefits until 2009, at which time the MTRS Board concluded that Plaintiff’s pension was forfeited by operation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 32, 15(4) due to his convictions. The superior court vacated the decision of the Board on the basis that there was not a direct link between Plaintiff’s criminal offenses and his position as a teacher. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that forfeiture of Plaintiff’s retirement benefits under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 32, 51(4) was not warranted because Plaintiff’s offenses neither directly involved Plaintiff’s position as a teacher nor contravened a particular law applicable to that position.