Fall Out of a Chair, Get a Tax Break. Bankhead Discovers “Chief’s Disease”

Some say Mayor Don Bankhead retired from the police force too early, unfortunately missing out on the last decade’s massive pension spikes that have driven modern public safety pensions well into six figures. As a result, Bankhead’s annual CalPERS pension is only $81,351.16, still about three times what the rest of us might be able to get from Social Security.


But Bankhead found another way to boost his pension. Through a series of dubious disability claims filed towards the end of his career, he was able to make at least 40% of his retirement tax-free. The injuries were allegedly suffered when Bankhead fell down some stairs and then later worsened when he fell out of a chair, according to this LA Times article from 1990.


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“Chief’s Disease,” as these disability pension spikes are commonly called, were all the rage in law enforcement circles in the 80’s and 90’s. At one point, eighty percent of senior CHP retirees had curiously developed debilitating injuries in the last two years of service, which made up to 50% of their pensions tax-free for the rest of their lives.

So how much does Bankhead get tax-free? The city won’t tell us, and neither will CalPERS. Bankhead’s case file was recently destroyed by the workers’ comp court where his case was heard, and no journalists bothered to follow up on the story.

In my day, we didn't have 3 at 50. We had to be creative.

One thing we do know: Bankhead didn’t “throw in the towel” due to alleged injuries. He quit after he had been passed over for the Police Chief job, and promptly announced his ambition to run for the Fullerton City Council. Then he tried (unsuccessfully) to run against Brad Gates for Orange County Sheriff.

That’s a lot of ambition for a guy who doesn’t pay his share of income taxes because he’s “totally disabled.”

46 Replies to “Fall Out of a Chair, Get a Tax Break. Bankhead Discovers “Chief’s Disease””

  1. So the city won’t tell us if we’re paying out phony disability claims or giving out phony tax breaks? Nice system you got there. They are just protecting their own.

    1. Their pensions are ALL infested with the derivatives. Its a house of cards. I sure hope they know how to cook treebark or mealworms.

  2. Is the chair Bankhead sitting at the dais safe?

    Funny, how Bankhead has been sitting on the same chair for 22 years and walking around as if everything is ok…geez the man is walking.

    Get him out of City Hall…November 2nd…Regime Change!

  3. CalPERS has set up a special “Disability Fraud Tip Line” aimed at curbing abuse in the disability retirement program. The tip line is a voice mailbox for self-identified or anonymous callers to report CalPERS members suspected of misrepresenting their disabilities to collect retirement benefits.

    Callers to the Customer Contact Center at 888 CalPERS
    (or 888-225-7377) can leave their name and phone number for a return call within two business days. Anonymous callers are asked to leave as much information as possible, including:

    • The name of the suspected member
    • Spelling of their name
    • Reason for their suspicion

    All information will remain confidential. Callers will not be contacted unless they specifically ask to be called for further details.

    1. I expect to be making a few calls to them about Sellers and his BS medical leave which will inevitably be parlayed into a fake disability claim.

  4. When you go through the process and actually FIRE a lousy employee from his government job, it engenders a lot of grousing and unpopulatiry from among the many other lousy government employees (I’ve done it).

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of people (in government jobs) are complicit with the cheaters and just go along with the corruption.

    This is what demeans the otherwise high calling and honorable service which should normally be accorded to civil service or public safety or public education careers.

    Honest, honorable elected public officials are the last line of defense or protection, to should ensure the integrity of public services.

    Who we elect to our City Council and our public School Boards either elevates or demeans the entire (employee) population.

  5. Fell down a stairwell? Collapsed a chair? Sweet Everlasting Baby Jebus, this buffoon is Fullerton’s very own Inspector Clouseau!

    1. I thought cops were highly skilled and in top physical condition. How could this happen to one of our proud men in blue?

      Oh well, next time his fat wallet will break the fall.

  6. Thanks for exposing yet another potential fraud against Fullerton taxpayers.

    He’s just another Republican milking the system while pretending to fix it.

    Let’s show these RINOs the door in 2010.

  7. I really believe Fullerton deserves this imbecile. After all, in a democracy you get the representation you deserve, right?

  8. Under the workers comp. laws when Bankhead retired you receive 50% of your salary at time of medical retirement tax free. No matter what your disibility rating was. 1% to 100% and that ment the amount of jobs you could not perform and not the amount of medical of your medical disability (something I have heard they have corrected.) The spiking you speak of is true. But what they did was take a regular retirement which was much higher then a medical and made 1/2 of the retirement tax free not the whole thing. I retired as a deputy sheriff on a medical and receive about $33.000 a year. In 2011 I will get a 1% increase based on the CPI. The max I can get in any year is 3%.

    So if his retirement was a medical only he got 50% of his salary at that time. I don’t know how much of a raise you can get in Fullerton.

  9. He fell out of a chair, giving him carpal tunnel, a wrist injury, a back injury and knee pain?

    Yep, that sounds legit.

  10. A person who retires due to a service-connected disability does not get 50% of his/her pension tax free. What they get is a disability pension of 50% of final compensation, which is tax free, plus a service pension of any amount over that 50%, which is taxable. As an example, if their service pension would have been 80% of final compensation, only 30% is taxable, with the rest received tax free. In this example, 62.5% of the pension is tax free.

  11. The LA Times story today about another one of these greedy creeps (Randy Adams of Bell), includes this line: “You’re only supposed to receive a disability retirement if you are disabled and unable to perform the normal duties of your job,” said spokesman Ed Fong. “If that is not the case, it would be fraud.”
    Is Bankhead unable to perform the normal duties of this kind of work? Doubtful. Where is Tony Rackauckas when you need him? (I know — you’re falling out of your chair laughing, but you aren’t a cop so you can’t claim a disability. Needer Needer.)

  12. Being ‘taxed’on my social security check by a ‘means’ test to prop up Medicare and the drug program I can only say our whole government social security program compared to government retirement programs is one big fraudulent system. The so called “Medicare’ adjustment is a new tax and is only assessed on those of us unfortunate enough to have been roped into these government SS and Medicare programs. It is a shameful abuse of power by Government. Think everyone should be in Social Security and Medicare systems and all high income earners taxed equally and fairly. Disability pensions should be taxed after the first $12,000 a year for example. Every high income person should be forced to prop up the Medicare and Drug mess equally. Right now Government is of the Government workers and for the Government workers.

    1. Dorothy – you are absolutely right. A taxpayer funded safety net for retirees should provide everyone the same deal. Social security and medicare, which offer diminishing benefits for high wage earners, are appropriate systems. If the minimum amount of security they offer is inadequate, then EVERYONE should be participating, so EVERYONE has a stake in seeing improvements. Instead we have the unionized government workers retiring with pensions that are three times (at the least, often far more) better than social security, who couldn’t care less whether or not social security is ever upgraded.

      It is important to realize, by the way, that unionized government worker pensions cost MORE in total payouts per year for a small fraction of retirees than social security costs, in total, for all of the rest of us. It costs MORE than social security. Think about that.

      Finally, unionized government worker pensions are laundered through their partners on Wall Street, where they are gambled in hopes of high returns. When these hedge funds, fueled with taxpayer dollars in the form of pension fund investments, succeed, they destroy investment opportunities for the rest of us by sucking money out of the market through program trades and short selling. When they fail, the taxpayer makes up the difference.

      Whenever a unionized government worker urges us to blame Wall Street, tell them to look in the mirror. They are partners with the worst elements in Wall Street. They feed Wall Street taxpayer’s money and are bought and paid for by Wall Street.

  13. Seems like a good idea, but she begins by talking about proposals and then switches her terminology to “report” for the remainder of the clip. Proposals and reports are, of course, very different writing genres and so this may end up confusing people.

  14. I hate scanners. It’s even worse when they rip us off under the guise of public service.

    Hard to believe this guy has been backed by Republicans all these years.

  15. Honest, honorable public officials/politicans are like UFOs. You keep hearing about them but you don’t see them.

    1. And then next thing you know they’ve got the probe out and they f____ you in the a__.

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  16. How to Report Disability Fraud :
    CalPERS has set up a special “Disability Fraud Tip Line” aimed at curbing abuse in the disability retirement program. The tip line is a voice mailbox for self-identified or anonymous callers to report CalPERS members suspected of misrepresenting their disabilities to collect retirement benefits.
    Callers to the Customer Contact Center at 888 CalPERS
    (or 888-225-7377) can leave their name and phone number for a return call within two business days. Anonymous callers are asked to leave as much information as possible, including:
    • The name of the suspected member
    • Spelling of their name
    • Reason for their suspicion
    All information will remain confidential. Callers will not be contacted unless they specifically ask to be called for further details.

    preferable not in sight of any city cameras

  17. Anyone else hear about cops claiming disability or workers compensation claims related to being
    injured by a driver allegedly under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Maybe being hit from behind while pulled over to the side of the road, or anything similar? Especially someone who is close to retirement.

  18. I have a friend who is former military police and now a private investigator. He is kept very busy in surveillance as he told me last weekend. What kind of Surveillance?, I asked, thinking he has juicy divorce cases. “Workman’s Comp”, was his reply. Over 20% of the cases seem to be bogus.
    So another high ranking policeman from Fullerton falls down the stairs and retires with a disability in order to get a tax free pension. We can thank Kelly Thomas for bringing out all the info on the pervasive liars in the Fullerton PD. This has been going on for years, its not new.

  19. uhhhh, the majority are older and fat loads-that means a lot of claims for lots of back complaints due to bad degenerative backs (from age or because they dont keep fit), bad knees that need total knee surgeries, carpal tunnel syndromes, neck pain, muscle strain etc because the only exercise they get is beating people to death-and police/firefighters get all sorts of goodies while on worker comp including but not limited to-100% pay for one year, gym memberships, all the chiropractic they need, home improvements, car improvements- stuff that usually isnt covered by worker comp is covered for police-like high blood pressure, heart issues etc

    1. We used to call all that “getting old”…. now it is a disability that requires the taxpayers to dole out lots of money for.

  20. #35 by Paul “We can thank Kelly Thomas for bringing out all the info on the pervasive liars in the Fullerton PD. This has been going on for years, its not new.”

    Yes, poetic justice.

  21. I asked an attorney friend about the “excited delirium” defense-this is what she replied to me:

    “It is not an legitimate defense. It’s something that drug users can get because their mind goes bonkers. It’s also something police allege happens when they taser some people. Regardless, using this as a defense is like shooting someone to death and saying, “I didn’t kill him! He died of blood loss/organ failure/internal bleeding!” Or, “it was this medical condition called ‘internal bleeding’ that killed him, not my actions” It’s just one of a multitude of ways police try to evade responsibility, and everyone eats it up.”

    1. Interesting. I read quite a bit about it when “jaynbond” or one of his/her other troll monikers first brought it up. Best case scenario it is a legitimate cause of death in which the body produces too much excess adrenaline and cause a sort of adrenaline overdose I suppose (I ain’t no doctor like Dick) leading to cardiac arrest. But it seems very selective: like, if you’re extremely overweight, on a stimulant (meth or coke) at the time, and are being threatened/beaten/tased repeatedly by police than you might die from this. Since two of these conditions were not true for Kelly there is zero chance he died from that. And in general I think your attorney friend is totally right – its mainly being used as an excuse in police excessive-force related deaths. Nobody seems to be dying from excited delirium outside of police killings.

  22. I imagine that if a Kelly Thomas scandal had happened at any PD in Orange County that the collateral dirt on the department cops would be enormous, just like it is in Fullerton today. The stuff that flies under the radar in LE is epidemic. As tragic as the circumstances over Kelly’s murder were – I bet he has a shit eatin’ grin on his face from ear to ear right about now.

  23. Question for the Union: When pension funds have run out, and many will be unfunded soon, then what? In the City of Seal Beach, the Council legislated a lower pension plan for Seal Beach P.D. However, a recent attempt by City Council to bring in a replacement Chief under the old 3 percent plan was discovered by a citizen watchdog. This citizen filed a freedom of information act request and presented it to Council after they initially refused to give out any info. Oops. Now they are “reviewing” the contract for the new Chief last I heard.

    3/50 is a wonderful retirement, IF it can be funded. 100k/year for deputy Sheriffs is a fantastic retirement, particularly when a staggering 70% retire on the “4850” disability plan. 50% of your retirement is tax-free.

    Get involved, and keep an eye on your government.

  24. I have a friend who works for L.A. County. Let’s just say he is in charge of who goes into and out of Fire Department, Sheriff and Police employment positions in his “jurisdiction.”
    According to him, Sellers will make out like a bandit, filing for the “4850″ medical leave plan. LEO’s are quite familiar with this plan, as the same Doctor told me that a staggering 70% of L.A. County Sheriffs retire on this plan, and consider it an “entitlement.”

    As others here have posted, Sellers will be eligible for 50% of his six-figure retirement tax free, for life. As I calculate it, if he lives to 90, he will have hit the 6 million dollar lottery, half of it tax free. Absolutely mind-boggling.
    Unless he’s suffered a heart-attack, disabling stroke, or some other tangible life-changing malady, he should be required to return to duty. However, according to my Doctor friend, it isn’t all that hard to get this incredible “disability” assigned and slide out of his responsibilities.

  25. Barbara Sheehan acquitted of murder in shooting death of ex-cop husband
    BY Thomas Zambito, Edgar Sandoval and Tracy Connor

    Originally Published:Thursday, October 6th 2011, 2:39 PM
    Updated: Thursday, October 6th 2011, 2:39 PM

    Anthony Lanzilote for NewsBarbara Sheehan (2nd rt.), accompanied by son Raymond (l.) and daughter Jennifer Joyce (2nd l.), leaves Queens court after her acquittal. Related NewsLawyer: Sheehan shot cop husband dead in self-defenseChild of cop slain by battered wife: glad mom shot dadEx-cop terrorized herBarbara Sheehan ‘not guilty’: Alternate jurorWoman shot hubby 11 times out of fear: lawyerRead son’s relig essay before slay
    A Queens woman who killed her ex-cop hubby in a hail of 11 bullets dodged one herself Thursday when jurors embraced her battered-wife defense and acquitted her of murder.

    Barbara Sheehan was convicted of gun possession but faces as little as three years in prison – and she grinned after leaving the courthouse with her children.

    “We are happy she was not convicted for murder. She’s innocent,” her daughter Jennifer Sheehan-Joyce, 25, said. “Even if she has to spend a year in jail, she’s safe … He was going to kill her.”

    Queens District Attorney Richard Brown called the death of retired Sgt. Raymond Sheehan “a tremendously sad and tragic case.”

    “Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a victory for the defense or for victims of domestic violence,” he said. “A family has been torn apart.”

    The jury had been asked to decide who the real Barbara Sheehan was: an abused mother who lived in fear of her husband’s explosive rages or a scheming liar who was sick of his kinky sex demands but lusted for his life insurance.

    Jurors declined to comment, but the split verdict suggested a compromise. A day earlier, the panel of nine women and three men reported it was hopelessly deadlocked, and the judge sent the jury back to try again.

    When the verdict was announced in the afternoon, Sheehan screamed. Her supporters, wearing purple in honor of domestic violence victims, sobbed and cheered.

    Sheehan, 50, never denied she killed her husband, Raymond, while he shaved in the bathroom of their Howard Beach home Feb. 18, 2008.

    But she said she had no choice: After a fight over vacation plans, as she tried to sneak out of the house with his revolver, he aimed a 9-mm. Glock pistol at her.

    She said she fired five shots from a revolver, then grabbed the Glock as it clattered to the floor and clicked off six more rounds before he could grab it.

    The jury acquitted her of a gun possession charge for having the revolver, but the charge from the Glock stuck.

    Sheehan must report to prison next week ahead of her sentencing in November, when she faces three to 15 years behind bars.

    “There is no joy today,” said Sheehan’s lawyer, Michael Dowd, who has defended many battered women accused of killing their spouses.

    “The only thing that would bring joy to this family would be to bring them back 17 years before the first blow was struck,” he added.

    Sheehan-Joyce, 25, said her mom is relieved.

    “She was acting in self-defense. I’m 25 years old. As long as you can remember, my father was abusing my mother. … The pushing, the shoving, the kicking, the threats.”

    The acquittal was a blow to prosecutors, who noted she never reported any abuse or tried to leave him.

    Raymond Sheehan’s twin brother, Vincent, called it a “bad verdict.”

    “But this is the system and you’ve got to live with it,” he said.


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