61 Former SBC Employees Are Members Of The Quarter Million Dollar Pension Club

By Mark Gutglueck
There are currently 61 former San Bernardino County employees who are each receiving a pension of more than one quarter of a million dollars each year.
Former County Counsel Ruth E. Stringer, who was with the county for 33.44 years and retired in 2011, is pulling a $391,680.95 per year pension.
Former County Counsel Michelle Blakemore, who was with the county for 32.11 years and retired in 2021, receives an annual retirement stipend of $378,362.80.
Former Undersheriff Richard A. Beemer, who was with the department for 38.82 years and retired in 2010, will receive $357,945.18 in 2024.
Former Sheriff Rodney R Hoops, who was employed by the sheriff’s department for 34.23 years and retired in 2012, receives an annual pension of $342,378.66.
Hoop’s handpicked successor, Sheriff John McMahon, who was employed with the department for 36.22 years, retiring in 2021, is to receive $326,534.33 in benefits this year.
Former Assistant District Attorney Dennis D. Christy, who was a prosecutor for 35.96 years and left the county in 2012, receives an annual pension of $323,335.25.
Dennis Draeger, who was the elected assessor-recorder at the end of his 39.81 years with San Bernardino County when he left in 2015, is set to receive $321,423.05 in 2024.
Former Assistant District Attorney James B. Hackleman, retired from the county after 35.53 in 2011 and is now paid $318,678.55 annually in retirement.
Former Assistant County Administrator Norman A. Kanold, a county employee for 33.37 years when he retired in 2009, in 2024 will be paid $316,560.78.
Thomas L Sutton, the county’s director of special districts when he retired in 2008 after a 34.57 year tenure with the county, receives $311,274.34 annually.
Michael Stodelle, a sheriff’s captain at the end of his 37.52-year career when he retired in 2006, has a $310,625.79 annual retirement stipend.
Former Public Defender Phyllis Morris-Green retired in 2018 after 36.65 years of representing indigent defendants and is paid $309,053.58 yearly now that she is no longer working.
Gary Roth, who rose to assistant district attorney during his 39.09-year career before he retired in 2019, will collect a $303,627.56 pension in 2024.
Linda Haugan, once the assistant county executive officer for human services, departed in 2016 after 35.68 years with the county and now takes in $297,931.84 annually.
Larry Walker, who was the elected supervisor and auditor-controller, recorder and treasurer over the 29.26 years ending in 2016 and was able to arrange to purchase five more years in the county’s pension system, now pulls a $297,663.85 pension.
John Michaelson was the head of social services before he was elevated to county administrative officer toward the end of his 30.28 years with the county. He retired in 2003, and is receiving $297,402.51 annually.
Robert McDonald retired as assistant county administrative officer in 2002 after 33.73 years with the county. He is to be paid $291,305.90 in 2024, or $24,275.49 per month.
Gerald Newcombe, who became director of public works during the final five of his 35.24 years with the county before retiring in 2017, now receives $289,459.93 annually.
Mike Ramos was district attorney from 2003 until 2018 and was a probation officer and deputy prosecutor prior to that over the span of a 38.71-year career. In retirement, he is now being paid $289,339.547 yearly.
Richard N. Larsen, who acceded to the position of elected treasurer-tax collector during the final decade of his 36.10 career with the county prior to his 2009 retirement, in 2024 will be provided with a $289,023.62 pension.
Ronald Reitz was county counsel from 2004 until his 2006 retirement and spent some 29 years at lower levels in the office of county counsel before closing out his 31.91-year career. He is now receiving a $289,010.82 annual installment on his pension.
Alan Marks, who was Reitz’s predecessor, spent 32.75 years in the office of county counsel prior to his 2004 retirement, including a few years in the top spot. He now receives a $287,544.17 pension.
Glen Pratt achieved the rank of assistant sheriff by the end of his 34.34 years with the department when he retired in 2011 and is slated to be paid $287,441.36 this year.
Karen Bell, whose prosecutorial efforts netted her the position of chief deputy district attorney during the last ten years of her 37.7-year career, which corresponded with Mike Ramos’s first decade as district attorney, retired in 2013. She is now paid $282,663.92 annually in retirement.
Colene B. Haller, who achieved the position of chief operating officer during the latter third of her 35.71 years with the county and then retired in 2008, is to receive $281,148.05 in 2024.
Bruce J. Zeiner, the son of former Sheriff Frank Bland’s business partner who promoted through the ranks of the sheriff’s department and reached the rank of captain during his 35.22-year law enforcement career, retired in 2004. He will make $276,408.20 in 2024.
Gurmit Sekhon, a psychiatrist employed by the county for 29.15 years before he retired in 2020, is now provided with a $275,466.37 annual pension.
Ronald W Bieberdorf, who zoomed up the promotion ladder within the sheriff’s department under Frank Bland, Floyd Tidwell, Richard Williams and then Gary Penrod over the course of a 32.08-year career, topped out as deputy chief before leaving in 2004. He now receives a $271,218.48 retirement stipend.
Raymond Wingerd acceded to the position of chief probation officer and was with the county for 36.27 years when he retired in 2003, service for which he is now being rewarded with $269,686.35 annually.
James Nunn during his 39.94 years with the sheriff’s department reached the rank of deputy chief, retiring in 2003. He will collect $268,841.32 this year.
Edward Ripley attained the post of deputy chief within the sheriff’s department, working there for 33.37 until his 2009 retirement. He now is paid $268,304.20 per year.
Tanya Bratton’s 38.75 years with the county netted her constant promotions, including one to the post of deputy executive officer. She exited the county’s employ in 2021, and now makes $267,928.36 per year in retirement.
James Coronado acceded to deputy chief with the sheriff’s department, with which he logged 32.92 years. He retired in 2010 and now is paid $266,502.34 annually.
Ronald Perret is another of the sheriff’s department’s former deputy chiefs, having departed after 33.19 years in 2005, which merits him a $266,133.64 annual pension.
Jeffrey Rigney, the son of the county’s longtime chief administrative officer Phil Rigney, followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming one of the county’s top echelon executive officers. He headed one of the county’s most important offices as the director of special districts. His 35.46 career with the county closed out in 2019. He is paid $265,669.24 annually in retirement.
Robert Peppler lasted 31.39 years with the sheriff’s department, serving under sheriff’s Frank Bland, Floyd Tidwell, Dick Williams and Gary Penrod, the latter of whom named him as his undersheriff, the second highest post in the department. He departed in 2005 and now is paid $264,762.44 every year for the work he carried decades ago.
Pete Ortiz was one of the first Hispanic high-achievers within the sheriff’s department, having been appointed captain to oversee the Rancho Cucamonga station before being promoted to deputy chief. He retired in 2012 after 34.69 years with the department and in 2024 will receive $263,685.07.
James McReynolds, who worked for the county for 29.74 years and eventually became the director of the department of behavioral health, retired in 1999. He receives $261,981.32 annually.
Michael D. Cardwell achieved the rank of sheriff’s captain while serving under Floyd Tidwell, then hit a glass ceiling in the department thereafter and was unable to wangle a promotion from either Sheriff Dick Williams or Sheriff Gary Penrod. In 2004, after 32.02 years in law enforcement, he retired. He is provided with $261,815.68 yearly.
Warren S. Nobles was named assistant sheriff, the department’s third highest ranking post, by Gary Penrod. In 2011, under Sheriff Rod Hoops, he retired after a 32.1-year career, missing out on the opportunity to be named sheriff when Hoops retired the following year. He is the recipient of an annual $261,664.71 pension.
Roger A. Stocker retired in 2010 as a fire agency division chief after 33.33 years with the county fire department. He will make $261,640.21 in 2024.
Gregg Herbert’s 34.93 years with the sheriff’s department came to a close in 2021, at which point he was the seventh-highest ranking member of the department as one of its deputy chiefs. His annual pension currently stands at $261,574.288.
Daniel Haueter’s 32.31 years as an attorney within the office of county counsel came to an end in 2011, at which point he was principal assistant county counsel. In retirement, the county pays him a $261,528.59 yearly pension.
Terry J. Welsh, a fire agency division chief who lasted 33.25 years with the county, retired in 2010. He is now paid a $261,119.88 annual retirement stipend.
Stephen Higgins, the son of a high-ranking sheriff’s officer and a friend of Sheriff John McMahon, retired at a relatively young age in 2020 after 33.31 years with the department during which he achieved the rank of assistant sheriff. He makes $259,100.21 per year at this point.
Sheree Stewart, who shattered the glass ceiling in the sheriff’s department to reach the position of deputy chief despite her gender, retired in 2013 after a 31.37-year law enforcement career. She collects a $258,331.62 annual pension.
Robert Fonzi, who twice narrowly missed being named as sheriff when both Sheriff Gary Penrod and then Sheriff Rod Hoops stepped down before each of their last terms in elective office ended, nevertheless achieved the position of undersheriff. His retirement, after a 32.55-year career, came in 2014. He will be paid $257,948.56 in 2014.
Errol Mackzum, the county’s auditor-controller, whose tenure included the years the scandal-plagued regimes of county administrative officers Harry Mays and James Hlawek and Treasurer Thomas O’Donnell were in place, retired in 1999 after 37.84 years with the county. He is provided with $256,490.70 annually.
Ronald Cochran, who promoted to the position of assistant sheriff, retired in 2016 after 31.35 years with the sheriff’s department. He enjoys a $255,099.55 pension.
Stephen Dorsey, the son of high-achieving sheriff’s deputy chief Ray Dorsey, himself became a deputy chief and lasted 34.1 years with the department before cashing out in 2019. He is paid $255,060.62 annually in retirement.
Assistant Sheriff David Williams retired in 2017 after 32.43 years with the department. He now receives $254,956.74 annually.
Rod Torres, who spent 33.62 years with the sheriff’s department and reached the rank of deputy chief, retired in 2019. He collects a $254,886.72 annual pension.
Keith Montgomery registered nurse at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center 3.93 2016 $254,859.41
Lana Tomlin made a steady progression upward during her 30.75-year career with the sheriff’s department, achieving the rank of deputy chief and then topping that in 2018 to become assistant sheriff, making her the fourth highest ranking member of the department at the time and the most highly position woman ever in the department. She opted into retirement in 2021 and at this point is pulling a $254,851.35 annual pension.
Jim Cusimano retired from the department as undersheriff in 2018, foregoing the opportunity of becoming the appointed sheriff that presented itself three years later. His 31.28-years with the department today translates into a $254,839.08 annual pension.
Samuel Lucia made it to the position of sheriff’s department deputy chief during his 31.51-year law enforcement career, which ended in 2021. He makes $254,736.88 per year in retirement.
Patrick Mead, the director of public works, retired in 2007 after 34.79 years with the county. His retirement stipend at present has grown to $253,865.33 a year.
Daniel Odom, a deputy fire chief, retired in 2014 upon reaching 35.29 years with the county. His pension stands at $253,616.73.
Sheriff’s Captain Michael J. Howell retired in 2009 after 37.81 years with the county. He collects $252,779.40 annually as a retiree.
Jean-Rene Basle, an in-house county lawyer for 33.49 years, retired as county counsel in 2018, and now makes $250,235.66 in retirement pay.
Vana Olson, San Bernardino County’s public works director in the first decade of the Third Millennium, retired in 2009 after 29.18 years with the county. She is to receive $250,169.89 this year as her annual pension entitlement.
The 61 San Bernardino County retirees provided with a pension of more than a quarter of a million dollars per year account for just a fraction – slightly more than half of one percent – of the now-retired participants in San Bernardino County’s retirement plan, which is administered by the entity known as the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association, or SBCERA. Under SBCERA’s rules, retirees are entitled to a 2 percent cost of living increase to their pension every year.
Some of those participating in SBCERA are provided with more generous retirement benefits than others. Virtually all of the 61 top pension recipients fall within the category of former employees receiving pensions governed by the most generous terms SBCERA offers. Management employees and sworn law enforcement officers have pensions calculated by a formula which pays each retiree his or her top annual salary as a county employee times the number of years worked times three percent. Lower ranking non-law enforcement employees use formulas that consist of either his or her top annual salary as a county employee times the number of years worked times two-and-one-half percent or his or her top annual salary as a county employee times the number of years worked times two percent. Thus, management and law enforcement employees, by working 33 years and 122 days, can obtain for themselves, every year for the rest of their lives, a pension equal to their highest rate of pay while they were employed by the county, augmented by a 2 percent per year cost of living increase. At present San Bernardino County has 11,599 retired employees to whom it pays out $555,519,608.71 in pensions annually. The average pension paid out to a former county employee who devoted his or her entire career to the county and is no longer working is $97,240.76, which is roughly 310 percent of the county’s median per person income, $31,348, the statistical average income of an employed resident of San Bernardino County employed in the private sector. The $97,240.76 is also equal to 126 percent of the county’s median household income, which generally represents the income of two or more people working within the private sector.

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