October 21, 2015

Communications & Stakeholder Relations
(916) 795-3991
Brad W. Pacheco, Deputy Executive Officer
Contact: Amy Morgan, Information Officer

David Wheeler and District ordered to repay pension benefits to CalPERS

SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration (Board) adopted an administrative law judge's decision that found former Loomis Fire District's Fire Chief, David Wheeler, to have knowingly violated the retirement law, and ordered him and the District to repay more than $450,000 in pension benefits back to CalPERS.

Wheeler knowingly violated the law by collecting a CalPERS pension for over three years while working in a permanent position for the District, despite repeated warnings from CalPERS.

"This is a clear case of pension abuse that CalPERS will not tolerate," said Matt Jacobs, CalPERS General Counsel. "We remain on the lookout for all forms of pension spiking and encourage the public to help us root it out."

CalPERS pursues all means when members or employers have violated the retirement law through audits, employer trainings, and on tips from our Ethics Helpline. In Fiscal Year 2014-15 alone, CalPERS completed 125 audits of contracting public agencies and reviewed more than 100 complaints from our Ethics Helpline.

Wheeler was notified on December 22, 2010 to stop working or return to permanent full-time employment to avoid the violation, since the Loomis Fire Protection District began to contract with CalPERS for retirement benefits on September 11, 2010.

Wheeler's response expressed assurances that his hours would not exceed 960 hours for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011.

Retirement law requires retirees to only work in temporary positions and for limited durations of 960 hours or less in a fiscal year, if working for a CalPERS contracted employer.

In 2013, CalPERS initiated an audit following a subsequent conversation with Wheeler that indicated he was continuing to work for the District. The audit also confirmed CalPERS original findings - Wheeler violated the retirement law and is required to repay retirement benefits of approximately $461,459.

In addition, to the repayment of retirement benefits, Wheeler and the District were also ordered to repay employee and employer retirement contributions, interest, and administrative expenses. This amount will be determined at a later date.

Read the full agenda item for David Wheeler (PDF), the Proposed Decision (PDF), respondent's argument (PDF), and the staff's argument (PDF).

For more than eight decades, CalPERS has built retirement and health security for state, school, and public agency members who invest their lifework in public service. Our pension fund serves more than 1.7 million members in the CalPERS retirement system and administers benefits for nearly 1.4 million members and their families in our health program, making us the largest defined-benefit public pension in the U.S. CalPERS' total fund market value currently stands at approximately $295 billion. For more information, visit www.calpers.ca.gov.