EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 10, 2011

Salvo's $48K annual pension at risk

Former school official to serve time at 'The Farm'

METHUEN - Former Methuen school business manager Joseph Salvo stands to lose his nearly $4,000 monthly state pension after pleading guilty to stealing $38,000 worth of computers, electronics, tools and more from the school district.

Salvo, 66, of Methuen, pleaded guilty Tuesday to larceny of property over $250 and embezzlement by a municipal officer. He was sentenced to six months in jail, with three months to serve and the balance suspended for one year.

Salvo will serve his sentence at the Lawrence Correctional Alternative Center, a minimum security facility off Marston Street, nicknamed "The Farm." At some point in the next three months, Salvo may be eligible for release from The Farm on an electronic monitoring bracelet, Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins said yesterday.

Under state law, Salvo's convictions of work-related crimes mean his $3,993.63 gross monthly pension can be forfeited or reduced. James Salvie, general counsel for the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System, said pension payments can be halted if a person is convicted of a crime related to their public office or position. A hearing will be held to determine if the pension will be stopped entirely or reduced.

Defense attorney Neil Faigel said Salvo was aware he could lose his public pension payment by pleading guilty.

Salvo was Methuen's school business manager from 2003 until his abrupt retirement in January 2008. Also contributing to his public pension payment are stints on the Methuen School Committee and City Council from 1988 to 2002, according to state pension and city records.

When asked if Salvo will fight a pension loss or reduction, Faigel said "we have to look and see what level of forfeiture they are looking at and make a determination then."

On Tuesday, after a three-year investigation involving local, state and federal agencies, Salvo pleaded guilty to stealing and embezzling from the school department by racking up at least $38,000 worth of purchases of tools, laptops, digital cameras, cartons of Italian tile and more on school credit cards.

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