Officer's widow waits for pension

October 2, 2009 9:13:29 PM PDT
Nearly two-and-a half months ago, Jersey City police officer Marc Anthony DiNardo was killed in the line of duty. He was shot in a fierce gun battle, leaving behind a wife and three young children who are still waiting for the fallen officer's pension.

One state official tells Eyewitness News that the situation is "unacceptable" and it's something that needs to be fixed.

On the wall of the DiNardo home are signs of loss. The plaque that honors a fallen hero, and these four words: "Everyday is a gift".

Mary DiNardo's husband, Marc, died last July. The 37-year old veteran police officer was a member of Jersey City's emergency service team. On July 16, the unit responded to a Reed Street apartment building. Two wanted suspects had been holed up inside.

Surveillance video showed one of them running through the streets, pumping shotgun blasts at undercover cops. Later, Marc Anthony DiNardo was fatally wounded.

"I don't want people to forget what he did. He was brave, but it was also his job," Mary DiNardo said.

Part of her responsibility now is supporting and raising her three small children without her husband.

"I keep looking at those three little kids and they get me through it," she said with emotion. "I have to be there for them."

As Mary DiNardo lives with the loss of her husband, the state's pension system is under a microscope in regards to how it works for family members of heroes killed in the line of duty.

Nearly two and a half months after her husband's death, we have learned that Marc DiNardo's pension benefits from the state still haven't kicked in for his family.

Mary has been reluctant to criticize state officials, but others aren't holding back.

"Somewhere along the line somebody was asleep at the wheel," said Jerry DeCicco, the president of the Jersey City Police Officer's Benevolent Association.

"For this to get caught in a bureaucratic mess down in Trenton is outrageous," he said.

When we contacted officials at the state treasury department, they told us that there were "no delays whatsoever".

State officials say an 11 member board votes on police and fire personnel pensions.

We're told marc DiNardo's pension wasn't voted on in august because they were still trying to gather some of the necessary paperwork.

The board could have called a rare emergency meeting, but Marc DiNardo's pension didn't come up for a vote until September 21. That's when it was approved.

According to a treasury department spokesman, "Obviously the wheels of the bureaucracy want to work as fast as they can, but we have to make sure everything is in order."

"This can't go on it has to be fixed," New Jersey Assemblywoman Joan Quigley said. She isn't happy with that timetable of events. She believes widows of fallen officers and others killed in the line of duty should be given priority.

"Two to three months is a long time under any circumstances, but for people who were planning retirement it may be tolerable. In this situation, it is not acceptable. She became a widow through no fault of her own and certainly with no advance warning. She needs money and she needs it now," Quigley said.

Thanks to the Jersey City Police Department and community support, Mary DiNardo says she's not having difficulty paying her bills. Still, she worries.

"Am I going to wait for it for months? Is it going to be a year?" she said.

On Wednesday, as Marc DiNardo's dad helped christen a new police boat named after his son, Mary DiNardo was there with her children. The state still had not delivered on the promise of her husband's pension.

"It just amazes me that it would take this long," she said.

Earlier this week, Mary DiNardo told me someone in the state pension office told her that she'd receive the benefits by Saturday.

When I contacted the state pension office, a spokesman told me that the benefits won't kick in until November.

Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey said perhaps in the future, someone should look at expediting the process.

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