MUSKEGON (WWJ/AP) - One of Michigan’s top Republicans in the 1990s is allowed to continue getting his $79,000 a year state pension regardless of the outcome of his trial on sex charges involving children.
The Muskegon Chronicle reports Tuesday documents it obtained under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act say Phillip Arthurhultz has a monthly pension benefit of $6,620, or $79,440 annually, from his 15 years representing the Muskegon area.
Robert Geake, chairman of the Michigan Legislative Retirement System, said Michigan law would prohibit stripping Arthurhultz of his pension in this case because the allegations were made long after his time in the Senate and have no connection with his legislative service.
“A person loses their pension if they’re convicted of a felony that is arising out of his or her service as a public employee,” said Geake, who for 21 years served in the state Senate, some of it during Arthurhultz’s time in office. “He would not lose his pension benefits under the law.”
Arthurhultz in June waived his right to a hearing to determine if there is probable cause for trial, and is awaiting trial.
Ingham County Prosecutors have charged 63-year-old Arthurhultz with conspiracy to entice a minor girl for immoral purposes, gross indecency between males, tampering with a witness and accosting children. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
A trial that was expected to begin this month likely will be delayed until January, the Ingham County prosecutor’s office said. Lisa McCormick, chief assistant prosecuting attorney, said she couldn’t discuss details of the case because of the need for a fair trial.
If Arthurhultz is convicted, his pension could be used to pay incarceration costs, Geake said.
Arthurhultz served in the Senate from 1979 to 1994, rising to Senate majority leader. After deciding not to run for re-election in 1994, then-Gov. John Engler named Arthurhultz head of the Liquor Control Commission and charged him with the task of privatizing the state’s liquor distribution system. He served on the commission from 1995 to 1998, resigning after an audit questioned his use of state cars and telephones. Arthurhultz repaid $12,000 to the state.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with his attorney.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.