Self-Stapled Finger Earns New Jersey Cop Lifetime Pension Worth $2 Million
If he manages to live as long as expected, Christopher Onesti will collect more than $2.3 million from the state of New Jersey for stapling his finger in the line of duty.
The transit police officer injured the ring finger—of his non-shooting hand—seven years ago while target practicing at a shooting range. Using a staple gun to secure his target to its mark, Onesti accidentally put a single staple in his digit.
He then put a band-aid on, and continued shooting—that day and for many days since— only now he’s retired, collecting nearly $46,000 a year from his disability pension.
After reporting the injury to his superiors, and many workers-compensation deliberations later, the state decided he was “totally and permanently disabled.” This meant he could no longer handle a gun or perform duties as a New Jersey Transit cop.
And yet, he still visits the shooting range, firing an Austrian-made sniper rifle.
“There are huge loopholes that are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” John Sierchio, a Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) trustee and reform advocate, told the NJ Watchdog. “Why the legislature doesn’t do anything about it, God only knows.”
Even Onesti admits his situation “looks ridiculous.”
“On the face of it, it looks absolutely absurd,” he told News 4 New York.
Not that he fought the state’s decision to reward him with a lifetime pension at age 29. In fact, he rejected an initial ruling that he sustained an “ordinary disability” that would have paid him $27,228 a year, or 40% of his former salary. Instead, he won an “accidental disability” retirement for a line-of-duty injury that now pays him $45,684 a year tax-free…nearly as much as his original after-taxes salary.
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N.J. Cop's Gun Range Stapler Accident and Its $2 Million Fallout (by Mark Lagerkvist, NJ Watchdog)
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