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Widow of Milwaukee deputy forced to pay back pension payments after bookkeeping error

Posted at 5:21 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 12:23:23-04

The widow of a Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy is in the middle a pension overpayment issue.

Wednesday the Pension Board decided Jenna Aleman owes back the money the county accidentally overpaid her, plus interest.

One board member abstained, but the eight who voted unanimously agreed Aleman is responsible for about $160,000.

Deputy Sheriff Sergio Aleman died on duty in a car accident in 2012. Aleman told the board she relies on the pension money she received to help raise her family. 

“I felt like I had to do this for my husband,” said Jenna Aleman.

The former pension chief knew about the error three years before they notified Aleman last year. Attorney Chris MacGillis told the board their actions are disgusting. 

“This was something that my client had no part in. She didn’t create the problem, but she’s being asked to shoulder the entire burden of their error,” said MacGillis. 

Aleman has to pay back more than $140,000 she was given plus about $23,000 in interest because of the county’s miscalculation. 

“This should not have happened. I base my life on what they told me,” said Aleman. 

The pension board declined to comment on their decision made in closed session. 

Tim Coyne, the director of Retirement Plan Services for Milwaukee County provided the following statement: 

“It's vitally important that we protect our pension system and give everyone the benefits they're entitled to. It's incredibly difficult when retirees and their family members are caught in the effects from previous errors, but a sustainable, well-governed system will mean fewer retirees being affected in the future. Unfortunately, overpayment errors within our pension plan have contributed to the system's fiscal instability. We are working every day to create a system that is sustainable and that helps us keep our promises to County retirees and their families."

Aleman and her attorney plan to appeal the board’s decision.