The front page of today’s Albany Times-Union leads with an explosive investigative report by former local reporter Jamie Larson.
Larson’s research finds that attorney Tal Rappelyea often billed area government for as much as 70 or 80 hours of work per week, reaching a peak of more than 90 hours—and on two occasions, what looks like more than 24 hours in a single day.
Larson’s article independently confirms much of the reasearch of Stuyvesant activist Will Pflaum, who is quoted at length in the article. Rappelyea, County Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons and others offer various explanations or justifications for the seemingly impossible billing. D.A. Paul Czajka, who Plaum elsewhere says he briefed in detail on the allegations, says he cannot comment on whether there is an investigation.
All this also assumes that Rappelyea had no non-governmental clients. If he had any private clients during this time, his workload would be even more superhuman. The attorney states that the 24+ hour days can be explained by the way his 30-hours-per-week for the County are billed: He says he does a total of 30 hours per week of work, but the County bills it at six hours per day, inflating the perceived daily totals. Yet even if one subtracts six from a high of 26 hours, that still makes for a 20-hour day—working continuously from 4 am to midnight. Plus those subtracted six hours would have to be added to some other day.
But if you want to read the story, you’ll have to either buy the Sunday print edition, or wait until later in the week for it to go online.
Plaum reacts to the piece in an email to this site:
I’ve been jumping up and down waiving invoices in front of Ron Knott, Pat Grattan and Paul Czajka for a year. The comptroller, the AG, the IG, the BAR association, the Joint Commission on Public Integrity, the state police: no one has taken the credible complaints about ongoing fraud seriously. It is still going on. The total damage to the taxpayer from the no show jobs at the county attorney's office is over one million over several years.Pflaum’s original post on what he’s dubbed “Sleepergate” (since it would appear Rappelyea gets very little shut-eye) is at this link.
We are not talking about [one] lawyer. There are many no show jobs, just like Rappleyea. We are talking about a systematic failure county wide, state wide. We need comprehensive ethics reform covering local and municipal government.