Ex-Chicago firefighter and convicted killer Eugene Ornstead has been behind bars for years, and while his freedom has been curtailed, his more than $55,000 a year pension payout has not.
That fact recently drew the attention of Illinois GOP lawmaker Tom Cross, according to Fox Chicago. The station reports Ornstead began collecting his monthly taxpayer-funded pension almost immediately after resigning from the Chicago Fire Department following the murder of his wife, Kathleen, in 1994.
According to Fox, the monthly check amounts to more than $55,000 a year and more than $840,000 since he committed the murder. Now, Cross wants to see the laws changed.
"Maybe you have to look at changing the statute where there's something of a violent or heinous crime committed and convicted, where you could say alright, that would be an example where somebody would not have their pension," Cross said.
Currently, the practice is perfectly legal under Illinois law since Ornstead's crime was unrelated to his service as a firefighter. The Associated Press reports Ornstead's daughter from a previous marriage cashes the checks and says her father "deserves his pension."
In May of 1994, Ornstead was charged with the first-degree murder of his wife after slitting her throat and stuffing her body in the trunk of a car before blaming the crime on kidnappers. The Tribune reported at the time Ornstead recanted his testimony to police and later confessed.
According to a separarte Fox report, the Chicago Firemen's Annuity & Benefit Fund now has assets worth only 23% of its future obligations, worst by far of all the major pension funds.