DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge has ordered the federal government to refund $150,000 to heirs of a Detroit pension fund lawyer who died before being sent to prison for his role in a bribery and kickback scandal.

Weeks before 71-year-old Ronald Zajac died in July at his home in Wayne County’s Northville Township he made the payment for his role in the corruption scandal under a forfeiture order.

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Zajac was awaiting sentencing after he and two others were found guilty of conspiracy. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds vacated the conviction, dismissed the indictment and ordered the money sent to Zajac’s estate because he died pending an appeal.

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Prosecutors wanted to return the money to pensioners, including police officers and retirees.

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