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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Sunday, September 24, 2017

New York State Senate’s staff members have frequently sent false payroll information to the state comptroller’s office, which allowed three state senators to collect thousands in stipends, according to the New York Times.

The three senators—Diane J. Savino of Staten Island, Jose R. Peralta of Queens, and David J Valesky of Syracuse—were listed in emails sent over three years as committee leaders, even though Republicans held these seats, reports the Times. These emails were obtained through a freedom of information law request filed on Thursday, says the Times.

Although the three senators are Democrats, they are all also members of the Independent Democratic Conference—which consists of eight Democrats— which has partnered with Republicans to control that chamber for the last six years, according to the Times.

Because of this arrangement, the conference has gotten perks such as larger staffs and stipends for committee chairmanships, all which are orthodox under the state Legislative Law 5-a. However the law does not mention stipends going toward Senate committee vice chairmen and vice chairwomen, like the three senators in question, reports the Times.

According to the Times, there were at least three instances of Senate payroll officials sending certified lists which identify the three senators as leaders of their respective committees. Mr. Valesky in 2015 and 2016, requested and received two payments totaling $7,500, after two documents identified him as chairman of the Health Committee, even though he was and remains the committee’s vice chairman, says the Times.

Mr. Savino—who was made vice chairwoman of the Codes Committee this year— and Mr. Peraltra—who was made vice chairman of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee in March—both received a total of $30,500 this year for positions they did not hold, states the Times.

According to New York State law, knowingly presenting false documents to any public official or agency is strictly prohibited and can be considered a felony if there is intent to defraud; otherwise it is a misdemeanor, according to the Times.

“We maintain that everything was done is what is allowed under the law,” said Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Republican majority, who said the records were submitted by Senate payroll, says the Times.

The partnership between of the Independent Democratic Conference and the Republicans has been a source of disappointment in mainline Democrats for some time, reports the Times.

“The more we learn about this,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference, whose party is eager to know more. “The more disturbing it gets.”

The state comptroller’s office declined to comment and emails sent to the payroll official, David Natoli—who sent the information to the comptroller’s office—were not returned, reports the Times.

By: Gene Wilkinson