Chicago police Sgt. Eric J. Elkins was 43 years old and on desk duty in 2017, awaiting the results of an internal affairs investigation of allegations he drunkenly fondled a teenage boy in Michigan two years earlier, but retirement was on his mind.
Elkins wasn’t old enough to retire and start drawing his taxpayer-supported pension. But he wanted to make sure that, when he was, he’d get the most money he could.
Elkins went to the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund and asked for permission to enhance his city pension by giving him credit for the four-plus years he had spent as a Cook County sheriff’s dispatcher and a forest preserve cop before joining the Chicago Police Department in 1999.
The police pension board agreed. On Oct. 26, 2017, it approved Elkins’ request. But he had to cash out his contributions to the county pension fund — money that had been taken out of his paychecks — and pay about $30,000 to the police pension fund as make-up contributions, which he did, records show.
Elkins resigned under a cloud last month. He was facing two internal investigations — one over the sex case, the other for a bar fight.
Now 45, when he turns 50, in 2024, he can start drawing a yearly pension. It’s estimated to start at $61,644, records show — far more than he would have gotten without counting his time working for the county.
If he reaches 82 — the average life expectancy for a man his age — his pension will top $80,000 a year, and he will have collected more than $2 million in retirement pay, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis.
About $166,000 was deducted from his pay as a Chicago cop toward his city pension, records show.
That means Chicago taxpayers and other police officers paying into the financially troubled fund would end up heavily subsidizing his golden years of a cop who quit while internal affairs was still investigating the 2015 complaint that he fondled a teenager in Michigan.
They also were investigating him over an incident last fall outside a Chicago bar that ended with two men needing hospital care after being beaten.
Elkins, who hung up on a reporter, hasn’t been charged in the beating, though, according to Sun-Times sources, he remains under investigation by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He also has been sued filed by the men who were beaten.
In 2016, Elkins was charged in the Michigan case with criminal sexual conduct, assault and “jostling,” a disorderly conduct offense. The sex charge was a misdemeanor but still could have sent him to prison for as much as two years. It was dropped after several months when Elkins pleaded guilty to lesser charges, avoiding prison and having to register as a sex offender.
A source told the Sun-Times that the internal affairs investigation of the Michigan incident had dragged on for years because investigators forgot about it. They didn’t interview Elkins until last year, after reporters asked about the case. A police spokesman has said there was no intentional delay.
While under investigation in that case, Elkins was placed on desk duty, where he spent more than three years. During that time, he was paid more than $100,000 a year, which counted toward his pension service credits, records show.
But he’s not getting any pension credits for nearly 12 months he spent on “personal leave” in 2003 and 2004 while defending himself against a criminal charge that he sexually abused a male Amundsen High School student while working security there in addition to his police job. He went to trial and was found not guilty.