Retirement Board Decision on McLaughlin Gets Hearing

Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) officials fully expect a reversal of the Chelsea Retirement Board’s decision from last month not to confiscate former CHA Director Michael McLaughlin’s personal pension contributions.

“We’re very pleased that the state Board is going to look at the decision of the Chelsea Retirement Board,” said CHA Board Chair Tom Standish. “Our expectations are it will be given a fair hearing and will result in a reversal of the Retirement Board’s decision.”

Last month, after a careful review of the situation that lasted more than eight months, Retirement Board officials issued a decision concluding that they could not take McLaughlin’s personal pension contributions, totaling $252,000, and return it to the CHA for repairs and neglect caused by McLaughlin’s criminal acts while at the helm.

McLaughlin had accumulated the sum after 43 years of contributing. The status of his full pension – meaning the state’s matching contributions – is still up in the air at the Retirement Board.

The state retirement board – known as PERAC – reviewed the local decision earlier this month, and surprisingly took umbrage with a good many of the local Board’s conclusions.

Members of PERAC reportedly had many questions about the decision, and some of those questions were quite pointed.

That discussion and review set the stage for the calling of a full hearing on June 12 where the case will be discussed by all sides before PERAC.

“PERAC’s chair had requested additional information from us,” said Chelsea Retirement Board Chair Joe Siewko. “We’ve been invited to come back for the hearing and obviously we’ll go. Hopefully, on June 12, all the issues here will be resolved.”

The situation was discussed in depth at last Thursday’s Retirement Board meeting, mostly in executive session. All communications involving the situation were also privileged at the moment as well.

The June 12 hearing at PERAC is expected to be private as well, in an executive session.

Yesterday, May 28, the CHA also discussed the matter briefly at its monthly meeting.

McLaughlin was convicted last summer of lying about his income, and just this month pleaded guilty in Federal Court to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States – a charge stemming from the secret rigging of federal and state housing inspections.

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