JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Action News is going right to local state attorney Angela Corey after learning she spent taxpayer dollars on retirement plans.
We found out about this transfer of money through a public records request. The documents show the transfer of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars right into just two prosecutors' retirement funds.
"It's one-time money. I want to make sure the taxpayers are clear. This came out of the budget, and did not affect raises or prosecution, nothing else," said Angela Corey.
At a time when governments are making steep cuts, Corey says she's saving taxpayers money.
"We saved taxpayers $2 million in the first full three fiscal years," said Corey.
Action News uncovered some of that savings went right into Corey and senior prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda's retirement funds. we asked how she would tell taxpayers about taking this money from her budget and putting it into two people's retirement funds.
"First, I didn't take anything. It's set by state statute," said Corey.
That means, it's all legal. "It's their entitlement. Whatever the law allows for career prosecutors is what we intend to do to keep them," said Corey.
It has to do with a state law on pension funds. Originally when Corey and De La Rionda were hired, 1.6 percent of their salary was paid into the pension fund each month. In 2001, the legislature said it should be at 2 percent. So, anyone who worked between 1987 and 2000 is eligible for that point 4-percent difference.
Corey says the $340 thousand is just the start. There are up to 19 other prosecutors eligible for the same money. "Taxpayers pay our salary as designed by law so why would taxpayers not want to pay what's authorized by law," said Corey.
Late last year, Corey also asked for more money in her budget for young prosecutors because many leave for better paying private jobs. We asked her whether any of the money she used for her retirement could be put toward their salaries. She said if she had waited longer, it would've cost taxpayers more money.
Corey tells us they are still determining how much money will need to go into the retirement funds of the remaining employees eligible for the money. That will be taken out of this year's budget.