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May 13, 2013

Arrest doesn't stop city pension

But disability payments would stop during jail time, he says

HAVERHILL — A lawyer for Haverhill said a city employee who retired on a disability pension and was recently charged with drug crimes is at no risk of losing his monthly benefits because of it.

But, the lawyer said, if the former employee is convicted and sent to jail, his payments will be suspended while he is behind bars.

Daniel Spero, 46, worked less than two years for the city’s Highway and Parks Department before going out on a disability retirement based on a “work related orthopedic injury,” city retirement officials said.

Last month, police arrested Spero and his cousin David Burns, 43, both of 44 Taylor St., and charged them with possession with intent to distribute Class B Oxycodone, possession with intent to manufacture Class B, and possession with intent to distribute Class E steroids. Burns was also charged with possession with intent to distribute Class B cocaine.

According to the Haverhill Retirement Board, Spero worked for the city from Oct. 26, 1996, until Nov. 14, 1997, when he was injured. He was a motor equipment operator and was paid $11.11 per hour, according to the Retirement Board.

Attorney Michael Sacco of Westfield, who represents the Retirement Board, said Spero was injured on the job during a winter storm and “during operation of a plow.”

Sacco said that regardless of the outcome of Spero’s pending court case, it would have no effect on his disability payments.

“Losing his benefit would not apply unless (he was) committing a crime as an employee and subsequently convicted,” Sacco said.

However, Sacco said that according to state law, if a person receiving benefits is convicted of a felony and imprisoned, the benefits would be suspended during the period of incarceration.

“Then (after the incarceration) payments would resume,” Sacco said.

Spero has been on disability retirement from the city since Aug. 17, 1998, and receives $2,089 in monthly disability benefits, the board said.

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