Suffolk's police commissioner, Edward Webber, is shown during an interview...

Suffolk's police commissioner, Edward Webber, is shown during an interview in his office at police headquarters in Yaphank. (July 25, 2012) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Suffolk Police Commissioner Edward Webber, whose appointment was signed into law Aug. 24, says now he has been only "acting" in the job.

Webber, whose retirement took effect at midnight, said he had an informal, unwritten agreement with County Executive Steve Bellone that he could retire from his last job as $211,000-a-year chief of support services and would not formally take over as commissioner until Tuesday.

By retiring from the support services position Webber, 65, can legally take both the $162,720 a year commissioner's salary and a pension of as much as $158,419 annually, for a total of up to $321,139a year.

Webber conceded late Monday that the situation has become "very convoluted." He cited a "misunderstanding" about retirement procedures and said he should have filed his retirement papers sooner.

However, he said he took a "big hit" -- losing about $20,000 in pension payments by delaying his retirement by 6 1/2 weeks.

"There has obviously been a paperwork snafu," Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said. "And Ed Webber is quite literally paying the financial price for that. . . . But if you take a step back, the practical impact of this is zilch. The same man is running the department, as he has from Jan. 1," when Webber first became acting commissioner.

Administration officials said the problem stemmed from the fact that they thought Webber could retire from his support services post retroactively, and that he filed his retirement papers 15 days before taking over as commissioner in August.

Jennifer Freeman, a spokeswoman for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, said the office informed the Bellone administration late last month that there was no provision in state law permitting retirement from a previous job. "You can only retire from the job you currently hold," Freeman said.

Bellone, in defending Webber at a news conference two weeks ago, made no mention that Webber had been serving as acting commissioner or that he had any informal agreement with the commissioner.

Schneider had said several days earlier that Webber was incorrectly being paid the higher salary as support services chief and had agreed to reimburse the county for the overpayment. The comptroller's office also said that Webber's Oct. 4 paycheck was issued to Webber at the police commissioner's pay rate.

Bellone aides say the administration will stick to a plan to present an emergency resolution to county lawmakers Tuesday to reconfirm Webber as commissioner. Legislative leaders in both parties have said they have no interest in voting again on Webber's confirmation, which originally passed unanimously.

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