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From a prison in southwestern Pennsylvania, disgraced former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky fought Tuesday to get back the $4,900-a-month pension he lost after being convicted of child molestation.

Sandusky, 69, testified via video link before a proceeding at the headquarters of the State Employees' Retirement System in Harrisburg, the body that ruled his convictions and sentence to 30 to 60 years in prison for 45 counts of child sexual abuse forfeited his pension.

The former defensive coach who helped Penn State under the nickname "Linebacker U." under longtime coach Joe Paterno told the proceeding he decided to retire in 1999 because of an early retirement incentive that would boost his pension.

"It was an opportunity financially to be in a more secure position by retiring at that time," Sandusky testified.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is trying to win back his monthly pension forfeited after his conviction for child abuse.Patrick Smith / Getty Images

His wife, Dottie, was in the hearing room for the proceeding that could last several days.

At the heart of the dispute is whether Sandusky's ties to the university after his retirement, including some payments, made him a "de facto" Penn State employee while committing the crimes in question.

His lawyer has argued he was not and that his employment contract was not renewed after the forfeiture law took effect in 1978 so its terms do not apply to him. Sandusky attorney Charles Benjamin has said Penn State made only six payments to Sandusky between 2000 and 2008, and three of them involved travel costs. The other three were speaking fees of $100, $300 and $1,500.

In a Dec. 9 filing, Benjamin also argued that Sandusky did not fit the definition of "school employee" under the forfeiture law.

— The Associated Press