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Former treasurer sues Malden
over vacation time

Posted by Alix Roy  May 19, 2010 11:04 AM

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A Malden city employee responsible for overseeing a department involved in an embezzlement scandal last year has retired from his position and sued the city for unpaid vacation time.

Frank Vacca, who served as the city's treasurer-collector for over 22 years, resigned from the position in January, according to City Councilor Greg Lucey. Vacca was on medical leave for 12 weeks beginning in August of last year and submitted his resignation letter shortly after returning, Lucey said.

The former treasurer has launched a civil lawsuit against the city, claiming he was never compensated for vacation time he earned on January 1, 2010. In a letter to the Attorney General's Office attached to the lawsuit, which was filed in Middlesex Superior Court on April 12, Vacca states the city “incorrectly assumed I resigned prior to the beginning of the new year and has denied me my additional two weeks vacation pay.”

The lawsuit claims five additional weeks of vacation time are owed to Vacca based on his employment with the city in January, in addition to regular wages and sick time.

A call placed to Vacca's attorney, Paula Minichiello of Christopher Fallon Law Offices, seeking clarification was not returned. Boston attorney Laurence Donoghue of Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLP said he had no knowledge of the case despite representing the city during prior discussions with Vacca's attorney. City Solicitor Kathryn Fallon said Donoghue would likely handle the civil case.

Vacca's departure occurred several months after former Treasury employee Gia Marie DeSantis, 27, was indicted for embezzling over $500,000 from city coffers. DeSantis pleaded guilty to the charges in March and was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $468,000 in restitution.
 
According to the investigation by the Middlesex district attorney's office, as many as 125 checks were issued by DeSantis during the course of the scheme, which operated from May 2007 to November 13, 2008, in amounts ranging from $2,000 to over $6,000.  Eight other defendants who cashed the checks  - none of them City of Malden employees - previously pled guilty.

On Tuesday, Council President Paul DiPietro called the circumstances of Vacca's resignation “unfortunate,” given his years of “good service.”

“He just decided to call it a ballgame with the turmoil and everything,” DiPietro said.

Vacca was temporarily suspended last August after an investigation into the city's treasury department, DiPietro confirmed. He declined to comment on any specific actions that led to Vacca's suspension, labeling it a “personnel matter.”

Other members of the City Council remained silent on the issue this week, failing to return calls seeking comment on Vacca's resignation. Malden Mayor Richard Howard did not return a message seeking comment. A message left for Human Resources Director Eleanor Cushing also was not returned.

Vacca is in line to receive a $44,140 pension this year, according to Kevin Morrison, director of the Malden Retirement Board. He earned more than twice that amount in fiscal 2008, when his gross salary equalled $94,014, according to city records.
 
Meanwhile, the City Council has been involved in numerous discussions on how to restructure the city's financial department to introduce more checks and balances, Lucey said. The changes will likely come in the form of a supervisory position, which would oversee all three departments starting next year.

Until then, councilors have voted to retain the services of Burlington-based auditing firm Sullivan and Rogers to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Treasury once an audit of the department is complete. The council had originally solicited applications for a temporary replacement for Vacca, whose term was set to expire at the end of 2010, but of the 12 applicants, none had the qualifications necessary for the position, Lucey said.

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