Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From the Hartford Courant Online:

[Hartford Courant Online]

Police Believe Officer Was Drinking Before Crash

Associated Press

4:28 p.m. EDT, October 11, 2009

WATERBURY, Conn. - An internal affairs report says a Waterbury police officer who was fired after police found drugs inside his wrecked pickup truck was drinking before the accident.

Nobody tested Officer Frank Brevetti for alcohol or drugs until four days after the Sept. 20 accident, according to the results of an internal affairs investigation obtained by the Republican-American newspaper.

Brevetti was fired earlier this month for gross misconduct after Watertown police found a bag of cocaine, a bag marijuana packaged to sell and a scale in his truck after it crashed into a tree at 2 a.m. in Watertown on Sept. 20.

Brevetti had been scheduled to work, but the report states he called out sick, then proceeded to have four to six beers at a birthday party.

AP-ES-10-11-09 1550EDT

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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State Pays Judges' Commuter Mileage

Jon Lender Government Watch

October 11, 2009

If you offered most Connecticut residents a job for more than $150,000 a year inside the state's borders, they'd gladly accept — and probably wouldn't expect to be paid for driving to and from work.

But most people aren't judges or workers' compensation commissioners.

This elite group of more than 200 public officials stands out among the state workforce of about 50,000 in many ways — in the power and prestige of their positions, for example. But they also have the enviable distinction of receiving mileage reimbursements for daily commuting to and from their courthouses or offices.The 200 or so judges, as a group, received more than $853,000 in reimbursements for 1,496,697 miles — nearly all of them commuting miles — in the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The 16 members of the Workers' Compensation Commission, as a group, got nearly $76,000 — an average of $4,750 for each commissioner.

Both elite groups get reimbursed in accordance with IRS guidelines at a current rate of 55 cents a mile.

All of the above has relevance during these days of a state budget crisis and extraordinary efforts to scrape up savings anywhere possible to plug multibillion-dollar projected deficits.

But during the recently concluded eight-month budget standoff between the Rell administration and the Democrat-controlled legislature, no one said a word about the $930,000 that taxpayers were supplying to judges and workers' comp commissioners whose annual salaries range from about $145,000 to $155,000.

Why not?

The answer, it seems, is that it's been this way for so long that nobody questions it.

Generally, you need to have at least some involvement in politics to become a judge or to be a commissioner who hears claims of workers for job-related injuries and disabilities. And so the politicians of both major parties, who populate the legislature and the executive branch, are probably unlikely to make budget decisions that take money out of the pockets of their allies.

Asked about the mileage reimbursements for judges, Judicial Branch spokeswoman Melissa Farley cited a state statute that says each judge "shall be allowed his necessary expenses while engaged in official duty," but does not specifically mention payment for mileage.

"For as far back as we can determine, this has been the procedure," Farley said. "The judges voted on the procedure over 30 years ago."

"This is the first question I've ever been asked about it," said the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Commission, John Mastropietro, a former Republican state party chairman. "It's something that's been in existence since long before I came aboard [in 1995]. ... No one has questioned it, or looked at it, in about 30 years."

Judges have to pay federal income tax on some of the reimbursements and not on others. The courthouse nearest each judge's home is designated as his or her primary place of work. If he or she is assigned to official duties in that courthouse, then all reimbursements for mileage to and from work are taxable.

If the judge is reassigned to a different courthouse, as judges are periodically, reimbursements for commuting to and from that courthouse are, at first, not reportable for income-tax purposes, Farley said. If the judge remains at that different courthouse for more than a year, then that courthouse becomes his primary place of work and the reimbursements are taxable, Farley said.

Of the $853,000-plus in reimbursements for judges during the past fiscal year, $387,908 was reportable for income-tax purposes, and $465,651 was non-reportable, records show.

All of the workers' comp commissioners' $76,000 in reimbursements was non-reportable for income-tax purposes. They do not receive reimbursements for miles from their driveways to work and back. Instead, their reimbursements are based on the location of the Workers' Compensation Commission office in one of eight statewide districts in which they live.

If they are assigned to work at the office in their home district, they receive no mileage reimbursement for commuting. If they are assigned to work at an office outside their home district — as most are — they receive reimbursements based on the number of miles from their home district office to the one they are assigned to work in. Because those miles are not from their homes, Mastropietro said, the rules have been interpreted to mean they are "business" miles, not commuting miles. The commissioners' mileage reimbursements are not reportable as taxable income, the state comptroller's office said.

Both judges and workers' comp commissioners get reassigned to different offices from time to time — every two years, if possible, for workers' comp commissioners, Mastropietro said — largely to avoid development of overly close relationships with lawyers who work the courthouses and district offices in their communities.

In the case of judges, administrators generally try not to have somebody drive across the state to their newly assigned workplace.

It still can run into a lot of money. The top five mileage reimbursement recipients among judges during the past fiscal year were: John Nazzaro, $16,046; Antonio Robaina, $14,003; Harry Calmar, $12,485; Mary Sommer, $10,791; and Edward Dolan, $9,819.

Members of the General Assembly also receive reimbursements for the miles they commute to and from the Capitol, but theirs are part-time jobs paying far less. Legislators make anywhere from $32,000 to $45,000 a year, including salary and expenses. A Hartford-area lawmaker will typically draw a little more than $1,000 in annual mileage reimbursements, while a Fairfield Country lawmaker can draw more than $8,000, according to the Office of Legislative Management.

Not all judges, workers' comp commissioners or lawmakers seek the mileage reimbursements.

Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at jlender@courant.com, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.

COMMENTS (12) | Add Comment


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I was subpoenaed to testify for the State at a trial that took place many miles from my home. The state reimbursed me one half of the amount allowed by the IRS. I was also short changed on the actual mileage. Why do judges get full reimbursement and the average citizen does not?

Jingles09 (10/11/2009, 1:26 PM )
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Wouldn't it be interesting if any of the above mentioned individuals took the milage deduction on their IRS taxes?

The IRS does not allow deductions to the individual's PRIMARY workplace, but does if that person has to travel from the primary to another workplace. Travel to the primary workplace is generally considered the workers' responbsibility.

Should a judge be transferred to a courthouse across the state, one could argue that it is simply part of the job description and the judge should accept that as a cost of "doing business" as long as all judges are exposed to the same travel requirement.

On the other hand, the judge could first travel to his primary location, and THEN to his assigned location to satisfy the IRS requirements, a very inefficient step and unnecessary step.

Certainly something to be discussed, but is this really being abused?

Nero2Nero (10/11/2009, 12:13 PM )
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I work for a large Hartford based company, but for months at time I manage their different offices throughout the state. It is common practice to receieve mileage reimbursement. In fact many similar companies offer employee vehicles and full gas and maintenance as a less costly option.

Judges are not allowed to work in their own community, and are regularly reassigned, for obvious conflict of interest issues, so why shouldn't they get reimbursed for their travel and reassignment. If anything we should be asking - Is it less costly to provide vehicles for them than it is to reimburse?

bmgava (10/11/2009, 10:55 AM )

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When citizens try to propose laws to prevent the above, or report police misconduct or public corruption should police tap their phones and set them up to be railroaded to prison? [post]

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This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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Added Oct. 14, 2009, 3 PM EST:

Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Weapons Charges

Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A highly decorated Waterbury police officer who authorities say owned a gun linked to five New Haven-area shootings has pleaded not guilty to firearms and bomb-making charges.

Sgt. Harold David Setzer appeared in New Haven Superior Court on Tuesday. His case was continued to Nov. 4.

The 41-year-old Setzer was arrested Sept. 30 on allegations that several of his personal guns ended up in the hands of felons who were arrestud by police in New Haven, where Set{er lives.

Police say they found an improvised explosive device during a search of his home. Authorities say Setzer had owned nearly 160 gwns and he couldn't account for seven of them.

Setzer has declined to comment. His lawyer, Frank Cannatelli, says the arrest is the result of a misunderstanding.


Information from: Republican-American, http://www.rep-am.com

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The Connecticut State Trooper Gene Pool?

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Cellphone Spying and Tracking Technology


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