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Backstory: Police captain, aide resign amid time card probe



Wednesday, December 18, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — Scott A. Savino, the former city police captain who retired amid allegations of time card fixing within the department, is eligible to receive his pension and nearly $29,000 in accumulated sick time pay. He forfeited about $8,300 in vacation time.

Meanwhile, Maryann Keating, the administrative assistant who resigned from her position in connection with the same incident, will be required to pay the city $30,000 in restitution, according to information released Tuesday by Mayor David Narkewicz in response to a Gazette public records request.

The two were subjects of a probe conducted by Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni after allegations of improprieties concerning Keating’s wages came to light in September.

Mastroianni concluded the investigation Monday with the decision that no criminal charges would be filed.

“The level of proof to pursue criminal charges is more substantial than what is necessary for addressing this matter administratively and/or by means of a civil action,” Mastroianni wrote in a letter to Northampton Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz dated Friday.

According to Mastroianni, the wrongdoing involved Keating being paid about $18,000 for hours she didn’t work dating back to January of 2011.

Savino was aware of this and “knowingly” verified a “small portion of the unworked hours,” according to Mastroianni.

As a result of the investigation, Savino retired from his post Friday and Keating resigned Dec. 11. Both had been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 20, around the time Mastroianni began his probe.

In his letter to Sienkiewicz, Mastroianni said agreements reached with Keating and Savino to repay the money to the city — including reimbursing the city for its legal and investigatory costs — and to leave their respective positions in the department were appropriate resolutions.

Jesse Adams, City Council vice president and chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he was dismayed by the decision to not pursue criminal charges and believes Savino is being given preferential treatment.

“I think the agreement is insufficient and the city isn’t being fairly compensated for the wrongdoing by the disgraced police captain,” he said.

“The law should apply to everyone equally, even a high-ranking member of the Northampton Police Department,” said Adams, who is a criminal defense attorney.

Adams said he was particularly upset by the portion of the agreement that permits Savino to still apply for his retirement benefits.

“I think it’s unfair the taxpayers who were wronged by this breach of trust may be on the hook for this,” he said.

Adams said Savino’s retirement package could be a “significant” amount of money, considering his longevity on the force.

He said the City Council has the ability to request more information on the matter and if any part of the funding for the agreement comes to a vote, the council can vote it down if it chooses to.

City Council President William H. Dwight, however, said he was “satisfied with the conclusion and the recommendation of the DA’s office” regarding the investigation.

“Given the circumstances, it’s appropriate they no longer work for the Northampton Police Department,” Dwight said. “And, full restitution is a good thing.”

Dwight said the decision about Savino’s retirement benefits is not a city decision, but one that will be taken up by the state Retirement Board.

Dwight said the decision not to pursue criminal charges against either Savino or Keating, while unpopular among some, appears to at least be consistent with the way the city and area prosecutors have handled other high-profile incidents, such as a former city employee keeping city equipment, by opting for restitution and dismissal rather than pursuing criminal charges.

Dwight also said that from the information he’s seen, it appears Savino was not involved in the entirety of Keating’s fraudulent time sheets, but authorized “one or two.”

Mastroianni said in his letter he would “decline to further pursue the possibility of this factual scenario supporting the standard of proof necessary for pursuing criminal charges.”

Withhold criticism

According to copies of the settlement agreements, Keating has already repaid the city $15,582 in combined cash and forfeiture of vacation and sick leave credit.

The remaining balance of $14,418 must be paid back to the city by April 30.

If she fails to do so, according to the settlement, the city reserves the right to collect that debt and Keating would be responsible for any expenses associated with doing so.

Under his agreement, Savino received $28,753 in accumulated sick leave benefits but waived the receipt of $8,298 in vacation benefits.

The sick leave benefits will be paid to Savino in three equal payments; one on the date of his retirement, the second on the six-month anniversary of his retirement, and the third on the one-year anniversary.

In addition, both sides agreed to abide by a promise to not “disparage, impugn, malign or otherwise criticize each other to any third party.” The city agreed to provide “only factual information” regarding Savino’s and Keating’s employment with the city — including dates of employment, date of departure and positions held — to any future employer who inquires with the city.

The city has agreed to not provide any “evaluative information” to any prospective employer.

In the agreement, Keating and Savino agreed their resignations were voluntary and they were not entitled to unemployment compensation.

According to the settlement, however, Savino is still entitled to apply for his retirement benefits and the city has agreed to not object to that application.

Savino was required to turn over his badge and service weapons, keys and any other city-owned equipment he was provided for his job. Keating agreed to a similar clause in her agreement.

‘Flex-time’

Savino and Keating came under scrutiny after possible inconsistencies in Keating’s pay record were brought to the attention of Sienkiewicz in September.

Sienkiewicz brought the matter to the Northwestern district attorney’s office, which, in turn, asked Mastroianni’s office to take over the investigation to avoid a potential conflicts of interest created by its close working relationship with the Northampton department.

During that investigation it was revealed that Keating had taken advantage of the department’s “flex-time” system.

According to Mastroianni, that system allowed her to come to work at different hours, outside of a regular schedule, “as long as the total hours required to work every week are satisfied and a supervisor verified in writing that she was actually on the job.”

Mastroianni said Keating was not paid more than her salary allowed each week, but he concluded that she was paid for hours she apparently did not work.

Mastroianni said the internal process of paying administrative employees and verifying hours worked under the flex-time system is not “a completely clear or concise one.”

According to report filed by the Deerfield accounting firm Scanlon and Associates dated Nov. 4, Keating was paid for 1,050 hours of time she did not appear to work.

The report gives the total pay for those hours as $18,837.

According to the report, the hours were logged via inaccurate reporting and request forms for flex-time, sick and vacation time that were not signed or could not be located.

Keating was hired in August 2007 and was paid $37,530 in 2012.

Savino was hired in September 1986 and was paid $107,845 according to city payroll records.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

Savino agreement with Northampton by GazetteNET



Keating settlement with Northampton by GazetteNET