For the second consecutive year, New Jersey Watchdog has won a New York Press Club award for political reporting.
Investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist will receive the prize for “Three Stooges of NJ Disability Pensions,” an ongoing series of stories on questionable retirements by law enforcement officials. The articles examined the cases of:
- Joe Derrico, a roughhousing repo man on reality TV, wrestling debtors on camera while collecting $69,703 a year as a disabled police patrolman with a bad leg.
- Timothy Carroll, who retired as a sheriff’s officer, claiming he was disabled by the trauma from seeing dead bodies at crime scenes. He then started a business to profit by cleaning up crime scenes.
- Christopher Onesti, who was deemed unable to handle a gun after the transit cop accidentally stapled his non-shooting hand. On disability pension since age 29, he shoots a high-powered rifle for fun.
New Jersey Watchdog’s Mark Lagerkvist receives the 2013 award from New York Press Club president Larry Seary.
As a result of the reports, a state pension board stripped Derrico of his disability pension. In addition, Gov. Chris Christie issued an executive order to create a pension fraud unit.
The stories also were produced for television in a partnership with NBC 4 New York. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Watchdog investigations were featured in a report by Inside Edition, the nationally syndicated TV news magazine.
New Jersey Watchdog continues to report on questionable pensions.
Following a story by Lagerkvist, state authorities denied disability retirement to former Camden cop Jeffrey Frett. In an attempt to collect a lucrative disability pension, Frett concocted a scheme for his wife to shoot him in the leg while he was on-duty.
Lagerkvist will receive the honor at a New York Press Club awards ceremony June 9.
Category: Journalism, New Jersey