Firefighter in disability pension battle 'ready to work' again

John Sauro hurt his shoulder while on the job and has gone through a lengthy court battle for his pension

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A former firefighter said he’s ready to work again after collecting an accidental-disability pension for more than 17 years.

Providence Journal reported that Providence firefighter John Sauro hurt his shoulder while on the job and has gone through a lengthy court battle for his pension. In April 2011, an undercover video showed Sauro lifting heavy weights at a fitness center despite his shoulder injury.

Sauro persuaded a Superior Court judge to restore his pension, which city officials cut off last spring.

Mayor Jorge Elorza said Sauro was an abuser of the pension system and agreed with the retirement board in April 2015 to rescind the $3,835-a-month income tax-free pension.

On Nov. 2, Judge William Carnes Jr. declared rescission of Sauro’s pension. He ordered it to be reinstated and that the city “continue to pay those benefits until such time that there is a determination made as to the plaintiff’s ability to return to work.”

The city's pension ordinance states that if a disabled employee is deemed no longer restricted and is younger than the age for regular retirement, the employee will be listed for reappointment. Sauro has been listed as eligible for reappointment to the department after a city-ordered examination revealed he's no longer disabled. He's now daring the city to try to return him to duty.

Dr. Brian McKeon, an orthopedic surgeon hired by the city to reexamine Sauro in Dec. 2014, said Sauro is disabled due to other ailments, including psychological issues, colorectal disease and a knee injury. Because no moves to reinstate him have been made, Sauro is now left without his pension or a salary.

The Retirement Board asked the pension order be put off while the board appeals to the Supreme Court, but Judge Carnes declined

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