Updated, 2 a.m. Jan. 22: PDF added.
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Police officers have taken the top nine spots on the 2020 list of City employee earnings. Coming in at number 10 is Norwalk Public Schools Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo.
Norwalk officials hesitated to release the list this year, citing concerns about phishing attempts and other Internet security issues.
“You must understand that our caution in releasing this information is based on experience and a desire to protect the interests of our hard working employees,” Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr wrote on Jan. 6, after explaining in a phone call that the City understood that it needed to provide the list in compliance of Freedom of Information Act rules.
Spahr expected to deliver the information in a different format than has been done, but the list came in a standard way.
And guess who’s on top? Police Officer Russell Ouellette, a number one breadwinner on and off for years.
Ordinarily, the superintendent of schools makes the most money from the City of Norwalk. This year’s list has two supers as Steven Adamowski, Ph.D. retired in July and Alexandra Estrella, Ed. D., took over. Adamowski earned $205,048 from Norwalk in 2020 and Estrella is way down the list, about 150th, with $156,154.
The top 26:
- Norwalk Police Officer Russell Ouellette, $287,036
- Norwalk Police Lt. Thomas Mattera, $244,942
- Norwalk Police Officer George Daley, $244,089
- Norwalk Police Lt. John Praveen, $243,984
- Norwalk Police Officer Javier Mogollon, $236,409
- Norwalk Police Officer David Nieves, $231,031
- Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda, $224,176
- Norwalk Police Lt. William Lowe, $220,295
- Norwalk Police Sgt. Joseph Moquin, $213,523
- Norwalk Public Schools Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo, $211,842
- Norwalk Police Sgt. Richard Delallo, $211,412
- NPS Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton, $210,911
- Norwalk High School Principal Reginald Roberts, $209,513
- Brien McMahon High School Principal Scott Hurwitz, $209,144
- Norwalk Police Sgt. Kevin Markert, $208,352
- Norwalk Police Lt. Terrance Blake, $205,466
- NPS Chief of Specialized Learning and Student Services Yvette Goorevitch, $205,247
- NPS Chief of Digital Learning and Development Ralph Valenzisi, $205,127
- Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski, $205,048
- Norwalk Police Officer Michael DiMeglio, $204,602
- Norwalk Police Officer Hector Delgado, $202,895
- Norwalk Police Sgt. Peter White, $202,521
- Norwalk Police Officer Paul Wargo, $201,601
- Norwalk Police Officer Christopher Sgritta, $198,071
- Center for Global Studies Director Julie Parham, $197,933; P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) Director Karen Amaker, $197,933
There are 41 police officers in the top 100 earners, 48 Norwalk Public Schools administrators and seven members of the Norwalk Fire Department.
Norwalk Police Officers rake in the dough by working many extra hours, some on overtime shifts and some as extra duty assignments. Overtime is paid by the City and extra work is paid by outside companies contracting for the help. The City gets a 15 percent administrative fee for every hour of extra duty worked by police officers, Sgt. David Orr has said.
“Having these cops work extra duty is actually helping the taxpayer because we’re getting an administrative fee,” Spahr said.
Then-Norwalk Finance Director Bob Barron called it “cost neutral” in 2017.
Officers on an extra work assignment are considered to be on duty, are wearing uniforms and a full gun belt, have a police radio and may have a patrol car; they respond to emergency calls, including medical situations, Orr said in 2017, contending that Norwalk is safer because more police officers are out there.
There’s always a spike in fraud attempts when this list comes out, Spahr said.
“By publishing the names, titles, and salaries of all employees (Personally Identifiable Information, or PII) to the press and subsequently the global internet, it puts ALL City and BoE employees at real and quantifiable risk of identity theft, increased targeting by criminals, a barrage of spear-phishing attempts for fraudulent and criminal purposes, and potential financial loss to both the City and employee from fraud,” then-Information Technology (IT) Director Karen DelVecchio wrote. “We have seen these attempts happen over and over, every time this information is published. It puts our employees and systems in harm’s way: the bad actors now know exactly who to target. The higher the salary, the more relentless the bad actors.”
Spahr said IT issued a cautionary warning to the Comptroller’s Office:
“Please also alert your payroll team to expect the annual flood of fraud calls, emails and letters attempting to divert employee direct deposits to unauthorized bank accounts. I know you and your team have put controls in place to thwart these criminal efforts and I appreciate your diligence. Everyone needs to be cautious of increased or suspicious activity on the ESS portal as well.”