City Wants Retired Officer To Repay $40,000

A retired Omaha police officer received a huge bill from the city, but the retiree argues that he shouldn't pay for the city's mistake.

“It’s not my responsibility.” For more than five years, retired officer Willis Sherman got more pension money than he should have and the city wants him to pay back almost $40,000. “I never thought he city would make a mistake like this and if it’s coming out of their fund, why wasn't it caught?"

Assistant city attorney Bernard in den Bosch says the retiree should have caught the pension mistake. “If I was expecting my check to be reduced by $635 each month that would be something I would be attuned to.”

The city's error started with divorce court five years ago. The divorce decree ordered $635 be deducted from Sherman's pension each month and the city sent his ex-wife a check. She got the cash, but the money was never deducted from his pension.

Sherman thought his monthly pension came after the alimony deduction and he can't afford to write a $40,000 check. “This is a mistake and I don't know what I'm going to do about it because they got me out here on a limb that I shouldn't even be on.”

Sherman’s attorney, James Martin Davis, says his client deserves a repayment plan without the five percent interest the city demands. “He should not be responsible for any interest, he didn't cause this mistake.”

The city's attorney says charging five percent interest is fair. “He received money he shouldn't have,” says in den Bosch. “We wish he would have told us, we wish we would have caught it earlier, unfortunately none of those things happened so now we're trying to make the best out of a bad situation.”

Sherman says City Hall should show more interest in how the mistake happened, rather than asking him to repay a large lump sum.

In den Bosch says out of an estimated 4,000 employee pensions, the city handled dozens of garnishments with few mistakes. However, a former civilian worker is paying back a $75,000 overpayment.

As for Sherman, the pension plan is expected to return eight percent, so the city says he should pay at least five percent as a compromise for the city's error because the city says Sherman had the opportunity to earn interest on the money he inadvertently received for more than five years.

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