LONG ISLAND, NY – As prices of Long Island Rail Road fares go up, so do the yearly paychecks of its employees.

The number of LIRR employees who made more than $250,000 increased by nearly 50 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to payroll data found on the Empire Center for Public Policy’s transparency website, SeeThroughNY.net.

The number of employees who made more than $300,000 also increased this year. Twenty LIRR employees topped a $300,000 paycheck in 2018 compared to 12 in 2017, data shows. In 2016, just eight employees made that amount and in 2015 only four employees did. In 2014, no employees made more than $300,000.

Former LIRR President Patrick A. Nowakowski moved up to No. 2 on the 2018 list compared to No. 7 in 2017 but his pay rate stayed the same at $137 per hour. The only one who made more than him in total pay was Chief Measurement Operator Thomas Caputo, who had a pay rate of $54, according to the data. Caputo racked up $344,147 in overtime in addition to his $117,499 salary.

LIRR President Philip Eng came in at No. 24 on the list.

On Wednesday, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said he was ordering an investigation into dramatically increased overtime payments.

“It is important that we are doing everything we can to carry out the work of the MTA efficiently and cost effectively,” Foye said. “We have strict procedures and regulations in place regarding scheduling and payment of overtime. Those procedures either must be followed or we need to implement stronger rules on day to day procedures.”

Check out the full list of LIRR employees who were paid over $250,000 last year:

  1. Thomas Caputo, Chief Measurement Operator – $461,646
  2. Patrick A. Nowakowski, President – $454,288
  3. Dallas Bazemore III, Foreman-Surfacing- $395,397
  4. Joseph M. Ruzzo, Foreman-Track – $380,407
  5. Christopher M. Kroll, Foreman-Track – $354,168
  6. Christopher J. Jerome, Foreman-Track – $352,935
  7. Ricardo G. Ruiz, MW Repairman Technician – $350,575
  8. John E. Nugent, Foreman-Track – $350,056
  9. Joseph Balestra, Foreman-Track – $348,522
  10. Patrick N. Damboise, Foreman-Track – $339,320
  11. Terence M. Glum, Foreman-Track – $327,628
  12. Carlos Romano, Engineer – $323,468
  13. Claude F. Birong, Foreman-Track – $320,130
  14. Robert A. Friscia, Foreman MW Mechanic – $313,355
  15. Sanjay Kowlessar, Foreman -Track – $312,674
  16. Marco V. Pazmino, Track Worker (A) – $311,162
  17. Devnish A. Baird, Foreman-Surfacing – $308,023
  18. Frank D. Pizzoria, Track Worker (A) – $305,477
  19. Peter C. Parker, Foreman-Signal – $304,037
  20. Donald R. Corona, MW Utility Worker – $302,155
  21. James E. Szegfu, Foreman-Track – $298,327
  22. Kendell T. Ward, Assistant Stationmaster – $295,986
  23. Lee S. Levine, Machine Operator – $295,345
  24. Phillip Eng, President – $294,243
  25. Omar A. Valle, Foreman-Track – $294,041
  26. Bienvenido E. Cedeno – Assistant Foreman-Signal – $294,035
  27. Joseph L. Fuoco, Foreman-Signal – $293,791
  28. Mark A. Speruta, Foreman-Surfacing – $292,116
  29. Salvador A. Avelar, Assistant Foreman-Signal – $289,578
  30. Joseph Fragale, Foreman-Track – $289,033
  31. Cary G. Realbuto, Gang Foreman-ME – $287,988
  32. Edward P. Popolizio, Foreman-Track – $287,794
  33. Matthew M. Cleary, Chief Train Dispatcher – $285,386
  34. Robert A. Schnier, Assistant Foreman T&T – $284,784
  35. Stephen M. Otto – B&B Foreman – $284,474
  36. Carl F. Schmitt, Signal Inspector – $283,405
  37. Anthony Brescia, Foreman-Track – $283,072
  38. Ronald Bestafka, Foreman-Track – $282,633
  39. Gregory A. Wood, B&B Foreman – $282,516
  40. Leonardo F. Espinosa, Gang Foreman-ME – $281,547
  41. Raymond A. Murphy, B&B Foreman – $280,950
  42. Joseph F. Pennachio, Foreman-Track – $277,971
  43. Thomas E. O’Brien, Conductor – $277,591
  44. Michael W. Greene, Conductor – $275,855
  45. Joseph Debenedetto Jr., Conductor – $275,705
  46. George W. Hutchinson, Gang Foreman-ME – $275,528
  47. Nelson Sabella, Engineer Work Equipment – $275,484
  48. Leonard F. Spero, Foreman-Signal – $275,113
  49. Jimmy Perez, Track Worker (A) – $274,838
  50. John F. Dunne, B&B Foreman – $272,616
  51. Steve Garcia, Gang Foreman-ME – $271,811
  52. Joseph Duryea, Foreman-Track – $271,239
  53. John Neglia, B&B Foreman – $269,937
  54. Michael H. Licata, Machine Operator – $269,234
  55. Mohamed A. Twahir, Signal Inspector – $269,046
  56. Marc A. Stoia, MW Repairman Technician – $268,264
  57. Luis R. Almonte, Signal Inspector – $266,591
  58. David G. Hayle, Third Railman – $266,203
  59. William J. Corley, Engineer – $264,025
  60. Robert C. Ennis, B&B Foreman – $263,158
  61. Brendan W. Higgins, Engineer Work Equipment – $262,247
  62. Marc T. Fason, Signal Inspector – $261,046
  63. John F. Swaby, Gang Foreman-ME -$260,971
  64. Richard M. Trepiccione, Foreman-Surfacing – $260,702
  65. Afshin Hezarkhani, Chief Engineer-Special Project/ESA – $260,380
  66. Jonathan W. Quinlivan, Assistant Foreman-Signal – $259,941
  67. Dean Cange, Engineer Work Equipment – $258,221
  68. John Joseph Bergin Jr., Foreman-Track – $255,680
  69. Nicholas R. Genter, Gang Foreman-ME – $255,497
  70. Robert M. Genovese, Foreman-Track – $255,147
  71. Kevin T. Webb, B&B Foreman – $252,225
  72. John A. Kolosvary, Lead Train Director-JCC – $252,106
  73. Darren D. Barrows – Foreman-Track – $252,095
  74. Michael R. Woodhouse, Chief Train Dispatcher – $250,958
  75. Wayne D. Rogers, Signal Inspector – $250,468
  76. Henry S. Walker, Conductor – $250,419
  77. Steven R. Riekert, Machinist Federal Inspector – $250,181

© 2019 Patch

You may also like

Faced with $10B deficit, MTA says it’s eyeing cutting overtime spending

Alfonso Castillo The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is adding urgency to the agency’s efforts to curtail overtime numbers that critics say remain alarmingly high. The MTA said at Wed Read More


Six-figure pensions are becoming the norm among retirees from New York’s largest downstate suburban police departments, according to data posted at SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website. Read More

Comptroller warns of financial distress at the MTA, and the MTA goes on a hiring spree

According to Ken Girardin, a labor analyst at the right-leaning Empire Center for Public Policy, every new police officer will cost the MTA roughly $56,000, which means the new personnel would initially cost the MTA roughly $28 million a year. Those costs should rapidly increase over time, as police salaries rapidly increase. Read More


One of the great government watchdogs in New York State is the Empire Center for Public Policy, led by EJ McMahon. The Empire Center recently came out with its annual report on overtime costs and the highest earning public servants in NYS. Read More

Genesee Community College president tops pay list in Finger Lakes

ALBANY — Genesee Community College President Dr. James Sunser was the highest-paid municipal government worker in the Finger Lakes region, according to the latest edition of “What They Make,” the Empire Center’s annual report summarizing total local government pay. Read More

Pensions New York taxpayers can’t afford

Another day, another shocking Empire Center revelation. Announcing the latest update to its SeeThroughNY database of New York public employee pensions, the watchdog flagged the city government retirees now scoring the highest pensions. Read More

These Dutchess City, Town Workers Are Among Highest Paid In Upstate NY

Citing data from the New York State and Local Retirement System based on regular, overtime pay and unused vacation time, Empire Center’s 2018 “ What They Make ” report determined which town, city, and village employees are getting paid the most. Read More

LIRR union chief blames OT on inadequate staffing levels, increased workload

“That’s one heck of an incentive,” said E.J. McMahon, research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy, the organization that publicized the MTA’s alarmingly high overtime rate in an April MTA payroll report. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!