Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart brought in a trusted colleague from her days as special agent in charge of the FBI’s Long Island office to make James Skopek her first deputy commissioner last June.

Now Hart has won approval from the state Civil Service Commission for a waiver making the former Detective Sergeant Nassau the last double-dipper of the former Detective Sergeant Suffolk with a salary and a pension totaling $309,460 per year.

Under state law, people under 65 who collect a state pension are normally limited to a maximum of $30,000 a year if they return to work as state employees. or local government.

Such waivers can only be granted where there is an “urgent need…as a result of an unforeseen, unforeseeable and unexpected vacancy where there is insufficient time to recruit a qualified person”, the law states. State law limits waivers to two years, although they can be renewed.

With the waiver, Skopek, 60, who retired in 2016, now receives a county salary of $157,300 in addition to an annual pension of $152,160. This pension comes after 30 years of service, most of it with the Nassau County police but also 15 months as a New York City officer.

While Skopek’s base salary in retirement was $155,585, in his last full year on the force he earned $244,998, with overtime. When he left Nassau, he also received $361,554 for unused vacation and sick leave, as well as deferred overtime and paid vacation.

Skopek’s waiver came to light after Suffolk recently suffered a credit rating downgrade from Moody’s Investors Service. Last month, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli also rated the county’s finances as suffering from “significant fiscal stress.”

Hart’s decision is not unprecedented.

His predecessor Timothy Sini, now a Suffolk County district attorney, brought in former federal investigator John Barry, whom he knew from his days as a federal prosecutor as first deputy in 2016. Barry, now an investigator Chief District Attorney of Sini, was granted a waiver so he could legally collect $237,000 a year in salary and pension from his time with the NYPD.

In 2012, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone brought back Fred Pollert, the county’s former assistant manager for finance, who needed a waiver to earn $308,000 in salary and pension.

Suffolk officials say the county is saving money because there are no more payments for Skopek’s pension or health benefits.

Skopek declined to comment.

Hart said she recruited Skopek, who worked as a director of private security after his retirement, because she had worked closely with him as supervisor of the Long Island anti-gang task force. She also noted his “high reputation” for his work with a federal counterterrorism task force.

Moreover, Skopek had no local political ties. Such relationships contributed to James Burke’s rise as Suffolk’s top uniformed police officer. Burke is in federal prison after pleading guilty in February 2016 to obstructing justice and violating the civil rights of Christopher Loeb.

“Without a doubt you want to have someone you can rely on and trust and have known for many years and someone you know will fit into the team,” Hart said. “He’s a great candidate coming from the federal side of the house, but someone who had a local perspective” from his years in the Nassau police force.

Suffolk Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), a former Suffolk detective who worked with Skopek in the FBI’s anti-gang task force, called Skopek “very capable and extremely hardworking.”

But the “Skopek compensation…is the product of a faulty system,” Trotta said.


Lake County deputy chief 'sickly' after breaking opponent's arm in friendly arm wrestling match - Orlando Sentinel


'Be a lifelong learner:' Chief deputy breaks down barriers at Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office

Check Also