January 31, 2012 at 8:01 AM
PATERSON, NJ - While assigned to desk duty because of criminal charges filed against him, Paterson Police Lt. Patrick Papagni has collected $6,173.38 in overtime, according to city payroll records. During the three months after the charges were filed against him, Papagni also received $1,619.22 in extra pay for being assigned to a night shift, the payroll records show.
Papagni was placed on desk duty and required to surrender his police department weapon on October 12 after being charged with aggravated assault with a weapon for allegedly pointing his gun at his girlfriend and dragging her out of her house.
The case remains under investigation by the Passaic County prosecutor's office, according to Gina Pfund, the head of that agency's domestic violence unit. The charges have not yet gone to a grand jury.
Police Chief James Wittig decided in October to put Papagni, who previously had served as Wittig's chief of staff, on restricted duty instead of suspending him. At the time, city police officials would not say exactly why Papagni was kept on the payroll while other Paterson officers facing criminal offenses, including one accused of possession of child pornography and another charged with official misconduct, were suspended. The decision on each case is based on the individual circumstances, they said.
If suspended, Papagni would not have been paid for the first 30 days and then he would have been placed on paid administrative leave after that, under the provisions of police officers' contract.
Between October 15 and January 15, Papagni was paid $26,525.82 in straight time salary for 480 hours, according to payroll records provided to PatersonPress.com through an Open Public Records Act request.. The records show he also received $461.53 in detective pay, $5,397.48 in longevity pay, $7,478.22 in benefits to go along with the night differential and 61 hours in overtime pay. Papagni's total compensation during the three months was $40,177.42, the records show.
Police Director Glenn Brown confirmed on Monday that Papagni's desk duty status has not changed since October. "Why would it?'' Brown said.
When asked why a police officer on desk duty would receive overtime, Brown said, "I'm not aware of any overtime.'' He added, "I haven't seen anything come across my desk for it.'''
Deputy Police Chief William Fraher said he was not familiar with the records provided to PatersonPress.com. "I'm not going to comment on something I haven't seen,'' he said. "It's not our policy to discuss personnel issues,'' Fraher added.
When asked about Papagni's night differential, Fraher said anyone whose shift covers evening hours is entitled to that extra pay, whether the officer is on patrol or desk duty. The night differential boosted Papagni's pay rate by $3.37 per hour.
Prior to being placed on desk duty, Papagni was a supervisor handling the police department's special events and extra duty assignments. He apparently is still in that position. "They schedule jobs around the clock,'' Fraher said.
There had been some question last fall as to whether there would be a conflict for the Passaic County prosecutor's office to handle Papagni's case because his former wife, Maura, is an investigator in the prosecutor’s office and his former brother-in-law, J. Patrick McCabe, is an assistant prosecutor.
But authorities decided that Papagni's relatives would be “walled off” from the investigation.