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PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Former state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen, who was impeached and removed from office in 1994, has filed a lawsuit seeking pension benefits he claims were improperly denied to him. Larsen, 73, of Pittsburgh, says he has been wrongly denied his full pension benefits by the State Employees’ Retirement System and its board. In 1989 � before Larsen was removed from office � the retirement system enacted a “secret” management directive that enabled terminated state employees to file for conditional retirement status while challenging their firings, according to the suit. If a fired employee lost the challenge, the directive provided pension benefits retroactive to the filing of the conditional application, the lawsuit states. According to the suit, Larsen did not learn of that until 2002. Larsen did not apply for pension benefits until 2001 because he had been challenging his removal from the bench, Larsen’s attorney, Lawrence Fisher, said Tuesday. Had Larsen applied earlier, Fisher said, he would have lost standing in his challenges. “Just because a justice has been removed, it doesn’t reason that justice should be denied,” Fisher said Tuesday. “Former Justice Larsen had been patient in seeking his full pension benefits. He has no choice now but to resort to the judiciary for relief.” The suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg. A SERS spokeswoman said the agency had not seen it and could not immediately comment. The suit also maintains that SERS failed to include unvouchered expense allowances of about $120,000 for about four years in calculating his pension. The suit does not specify a dollar amount, but Fisher said Larsen had been improperly denied more than $1 million in pension benefits. Larsen also seeks punitive damages. Larsen was convicted in June 1994 of conspiracy in Allegheny County Court for using the names of court employees on his own prescription drug purchases. He said at the time he wanted to keep private his treatment and medication for chronic depression. Larsen was also impeached by the state Senate in October 1994. Those actions, and a February 2000 decision by the Court of Judicial Discipline, removed him from office. He was also barred from holding public office.

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