Seventy-six Miami police officers enrolled in an early-retirement program filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, claiming administrators misled them about pension benefits, prompting them to retire early and lose out on tens of millions of dollars.
The plaintiffs, led by police lieutenants Jorge Castro and David Patino, Sgt. Nestor Garcia and officer Francisco Casanovas, said they were told that if they did not retire by Sept. 30, 2010, they would lose valuable pension benefits.
The group asserts that administrators urged them to enter the early-retirement program known as DROP or face the loss of pension benefits. The advice was incorrect, the lawsuit states.
The class-action lawsuit names the city, former City Manager Carlos Migoya and the police and firefighters’ retirement trust as defendants. It seeks restitution, unspecified damages and an injunction granting pension benefits they would have earned had they not been “swindled’’ by the defendants.
By “not presenting a truthful and complete picture of their retirement options, the City swindled hundreds of police officers out of far greater and valuable pension benefits,’’ states the suit, filed by Miami attorney Dale J. Morgado.
Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado disagreed, saying there was a voluntary rush toward retirement in 2010 when the city was pondering drastic cuts to balance its budget.