Democrat, Suffolk County Comptroller, Joseph Sawicki, in Islandia, NY, May...

Democrat, Suffolk County Comptroller, Joseph Sawicki, in Islandia, NY, May 25, 2006. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Suffolk has become a testing ground in a statewide crackdown on pension violators -- the result of a special arrangement between state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and county Comptroller Joseph Sawicki.

State law bars most retirees in the state system from receiving pension checks once they earn more than $30,000 in post-retirement government jobs in a given year. Only employees who receive waivers may legally "double-dip" in this manner.

The state comptroller, however, has long lacked one-stop access to the state's tax database, which would allow his office to systematically identify local-government employees breaking the rules. In June, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation allowing DiNapoli's office that access. But before anyone knew if this bill would be enacted, Sawicki, a Republican, offered to help DiNapoli, a Democrat, by supplying the relevant information from his county.

So with Suffolk's data in hand, DiNapoli explained Friday, his office has begun to cross-check the county's payroll against the retirement system's rolls "as a pilot that will provide us a first run at how to compare this information."

"This should give us a good handle on what may be out there" in terms of violations statewide, said DiNapoli, whose elected position makes him the retirement system's sole trustee.

Sawicki said the question from the start had been: "Is there any way to catch someone, with no waiver from the state, who's been doing this for a long time and getting away with it? . . . By joining forces, I think we can get to the bottom of this."

The statewide tax data becomes available to DiNapoli Jan. 1. Meanwhile, a written agreement needs to be drafted between his office and the state Taxation and Finance Department. Results from the Suffolk "pilot" effort are expected in the fall.

COLISEUM COMPLAINT: Nassau resident Andrew Nordquist, 32, last month complained to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority and state ethics officials about NIFA member George Marlin's public remarks regarding County Executive Edward Mangano's $400 million Coliseum bond proposal and other critical statements. In a detailed letter, which Nordquist told Newsday he wrote with help from a friend who's an attorney, he accuses Marlin of "bias" and of skirting NIFA impartiality rules. Marlin, 58, declined to respond, but a friend who requested anonymity said: "Has the young man who signed the letter heard of the First Amendment to the Constitution?"