10 Connects Mike Deeson exposes Judge Thomas Freeman’s re-election payment D.R.O.P. plan
Meet Pinellas County Judge Thomas B. Freeman, who has been sitting on the bench for 29 years.
In 2006 he signed the Florida Deferred Options Retirement Plan called D.R.O.P. saying his resignation date would be September 20, 2011. Freeman says at the time it was the best thing for his family.
But a loophole in the law allows elected officials to keep on working. That means if Freeman is re-elected the onetime lump sum payout of $481,000 will be put in an account to earn 6.5 percent each year.
At the end of the six-year term his $481,000 will rise to almost $700,000, a 37 percent rise. Freeman contends the people of Florida are going to make money, because he says he knows the reason the D.R.O.P. plan holds the money is because it is making a better return on the investment.
And while clearly what Freeman is doing, trying to stay on the bench past his D.R.O.P. retirement date, is 100 percent in compliance with the law, it is another example how the Florida Retirement System and the D.R.O.P. plan can handsomely reward public employees and elected officials at taxpayer expense.
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