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Retired Hempstead Village police chiefs receive $1.6M payout

Former Chief Michael McGowan received the department’s largest payout to date of more than $646,000, officials said.

Hempstead Police Chief Michael McGowan, left, retired from

Hempstead Police Chief Michael McGowan, left, retired from the village police department on May 31. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Hempstead Village will pay more than $1.6 million in severance payments to three recently retired police chiefs through 2022, according to data provided by the village.

Former Chief Michael McGowan, Assistant Chief Joseph Sortino and Deputy Chief Mark Matthews retired May 31 when their contracts expired. McGowan’s $646,393.55 payout is the department’s largest to date, according to the village. He was hired in 1978 and has been chief since 2012.

Sortino, who was hired in 1994, will receive a $475,388.76 payout, according to the data. Matthews was hired in 1987, and his payout is $495,155.99.

“Their final payouts are in accordance with negotiated police contracts, in parity with terms and conditions offered in neighboring municipalities and in compliance with what was approved by the Village Board toward the end of former Mayor [Wayne] Hall’s term in 2017,” Mayor Don Ryan said in a statement Wednesday.

Severance payouts over a half-million dollars have been given to other high-ranking police officers on Long Island. In 2015, Old Westbury Police Chief Daniel E. Duggan received more than $1 million in severance pay when he retired from the force after 40 years.

Acting Hempstead Police Chief Paul Johnson and acting Deputy Chief Richard Holland took over the department temporarily earlier this month after the retirements. Lt. Patrick Cooke was slated to take over the acting assistant chief position but his appointment was voted down 4-1 by the village board of trustees. Village officials are awaiting the results of a Civil Service chief’s test before they can make any appointments permanent.

The severance pay represents accrued vacation, personal, compensatory, holidays, terminal and sick leave. They will be paid in six installments, which began in May and end in June 2022, the data show. None of their payments will be bonded because the amounts are included in the village’s annual budgets.

Figures for the chiefs’ state pension payments were not immediately available.

Each Hempstead chief was paid out for 90 days of vacation, 15 personal days, 12 compensatory days and six holidays, according to the data. McGowan had 195 days of terminal leave and 350 days of unused sick leave, while Sortino had 115 days of terminal and 296 of sick leave. Matthews had 150 days of terminal and 326.5 days of sick leave.

Their contracts ran from June 2017 to May 31, 2018. McGowan’s base salary was $224,496, while Sortino’s was $206,536 and Matthews’ was $191,620, according to copies of their contracts.

The chiefs’ retirement sick time payouts were capped at 350 days, two years’ of vacation time and 15 personal days, the contracts show. They were not entitled to other payments, such as overtime, during their tenures as chiefs.

Former Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan, Assistant Chief Joseph Sortino and Deputy Chief Mark Matthews retired on May 31. They have already begun receiving their severance payments from the village. Each was paid out for 90 days of vacation, 15 personal days, 12 compensatory days and six holidays, according to data provided by Hempstead Village.

  • McGowan’s base salary was $224,496. His severance payout, the department’s highest to date, is $646,393.55, which also includes 195 days of terminal leave and 350 days of unused sick leave.
  • Sortino’s base salary was $206,536. His severance payout is $475,388.76, which also includes 115 days of terminal and 296 of sick leave.
  • Matthews’ base salary was $191,620. His severance payout is $495,155.99, which also includes 150 days of terminal and 326.5 days of sick leave.

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