The Bellone administration has picked a new medical examiner from South Carolina at a cost to Suffolk taxpayers of $250,000 annually -- a nearly 45 percent bump in salary from his predecessor.
Dr. Michael J. Caplan, 52, has worked as an associate professor of pathology at The Medical University of South Carolina since 2004. Earlier he spent a decade working in medical examiners' offices in Delaware and Michigan. He also did a year's training as a pathology fellow in New York City's medical examiner's office.
The county search committee chose Caplan unanimously from a national search that included 10 candidates. If Caplan is confirmed by the county legislature, he will begin a term July 1 that will last until 2020. Caplan will also earn $25,000 a year teaching at Stony Brook University Medical School.
He will replace Dr. Yvonne Milewski, who left last September, months after being reconfirmed for a second six-year term. She earned $172,500 a year with no raise after her reappointment. Milewski started in 2007 at $159,000 annually. She now works in New York City as acting deputy chief medical examiner.
After Milewski left, County Executive Steve Bellone successfully sought a resolution lifting the exemption of the chief medical examiner and health commissioner from a county salary cap. That cap kept their pay below his $187,000 salary.
"It was obvious in the beginning of our search that salaries in the field had escalated greatly and the numbers would have to go up to bring in a top quality candidate," said Alan Schneider, a search committee member who heads the county civil service office.
Bellone called Caplan "a great candidate" who has specialized in pediatric pathology, which gives him expertise in areas like "shaken baby" syndrome.
A resident of Charleston, South Carolina, Caplan said he lived in Hauppauge for about a 1 1/2 years as a child
"One of my dreams has always been to be in a leadership position in a medical examiner's office, and some of my roots are here," Caplan said.
Caplan said he was attracted to the job because "Suffolk has its toxicology and crime lab under one roof and has everything we need to do the job."