District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy leads the list of highest-paid Montgomery County employees with a 2012 salary of $140,924, 57 percent more than the closest runner-up.
The top-ten list supplied by county officials after a state Freedom of Information Law request was dominated by department heads making wages in the neighborhood of $75,000.
Sheriff Michael Amato’s salary was the closest to Conboy’s, at $89,627. It’s a lot less, but there is a case to be made that the highest-paid employee handles a major work load.
The top 10
The highest-paid employees of Montgomery County in 2012:
James Conboy, district attorney $140,924
Michael Amato, sheriff $89,627
Paul Clayburn, commissioner of public works $81,036
William Martuscello, public defender $79,272
Daniel Colon, director of data processing $78,948
Shawn Bowerman, county treasurer $76,640
Michael McMahon, commissioner of social services $76,626
Richard Baia, personnel officer $76,263
Jeffrey Smith, undersheriff $74,858
Lucille Sitterly, probation director $74,081
“Broadly speaking, I prosecute everything from traffic tickets to murder,” Conboy said, “If you imagine the county as a huge funnel, with every police department tossing in all their paperwork, all that lands on my desk.”
He does have four part-time assistant district attorneys helping out with most of the traffic tickets and misdemeanors. Conboy concentrates on felony charges, dealing with an average of one or two a day, “and each one requires its own attention,” he said.
Notably in 2012, he had two double-murder cases to prosecute. He recently landed a conviction in the case of Ivan Ramos, who slashed two Amsterdam residents to death in their apartment. He’s still working on the cases of Anthony Brasmeister and Matt Phelps, who are charged in the shooting deaths of Paul Damphier and Jonathan DeJesus back in July.
“I was on vacation when they found the two victims in the field,” he said. “End of vacation.”
His 2012 wage is up from 2011. District attorney salaries statewide are tied to judge salaries. For 13 years prior to April 2012, he received a steady $119,000 a year.
Though he said the job is not about money, Conboy pointed out the raise does reflect an increase in his workload. Since he took the job in 1996, he said, crime has gone up exponentially. Many point to the bad economy as a crime catalyst, but Conboy has another explanation.
“We have a segment of society with no respect for authority,” he said, “and that segment seems to be procreating at a much higher rate than the rest of the law-abiding public. I’m now prosecuting the grandchildren of people I prosecuted when I first started.”