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Most Top Earners, Employees in DA Violante’s Office are Women

By Mike Hudson

Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante.
Two of Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante’s top three deputies are women; lady lawyers take home six of the top 10 salaries in Violante’s office, and 10 of Violante’s 19-full time prosecutors are female, facts that cast a shadow of doubt over Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Donatello’s claim that women are discriminated against in the DA’s office.

In July, just four months after she unsuccessfully sought a raise of nearly $30,000 a year, Donatello sent a letter to the county claiming she was a victim of sexual discrimination and harassment by Violante. Donatello currently earns $68,253 annually.

In an exclusive interview with the Niagara Falls Reporter, Violante last week praised Donatello's prosecutorial skills and said that he had done everything he could to get her a raise, but that a wage freeze enacted by the county legislature last year prevented any increase.

According to information made available on the government transparency website, SeeThroughNY.net, Deputy District Attorney Doreen Hoffman earns $106,059 a year for her services, tying her with Deputy DA Theodore Brenner as the highest paid member of Violante’s staff. Deputy DA Holly Sloma makes $104,332 a year and is number three on the list.

Longtime Assistant DA Robert Zucco earns $97,515 annually, while ADA Heather Sloma De Castro makes $75,555 a year.

Donetello is the sixth highest paid member of Violante’s staff, followed by John Andrews, Lisa Baehre and Peter Wydysh, who each earn $64,565 a year.

County sources have confirmed that each of the women in Violante’s office has made a statement to county attorneys that they were not discriminated against or harassed, nor had they heard of any woman staffer being discriminated against or harassed until Donatello’s allegations surfaced in July.

Insurance companies retained by the county have deep pockets, and anyone can sue anyone else over anything, but observers say it will be difficult to prove sex discrimination in an office where most of the top wage earners and most of the employees are female.

Oddly, although Donatello’s charges of inappropriate touching, remarks and the presence of “pornography” on Violante's office computer were central to Donatello’s July letter, neither she nor her spokesman/husband, Buffalo private eye Peter Vito, have mentioned the charges to newspaper and television reporters covering the case.

Violante told the Reporter last week that he denies all of Donatello’s charges, plans a vigorous defense and will likely pursue legal action himself once he is exonerated.

According to SeeThroughNY.net, a transparency website that lists employment information about government employees, the 2013 salaries for the Niagara County District Attorney's office are:

Michael J. Violante, District Attorney: $139,906

Theodore A. Brenner, Deputy District Attorney: $106,059

Doreen M. Hoffmann, Deputy District Attorney: $106,059

Holly E. Sloma, Deputy District Attorney: $104,332

Robert A. Zucco, Assistant: $97,515

Claudette S. Caldwell, Assistant: $86,544

Heather A. DeCastro, Assistant: $75,555

Elizabeth R. Donatello, Assistant: $68,253

John W. Andrews, Assistant: $64,565

Lisa M. Baehre, Assistant: $64,565

Peter M. Wydysh, Assistant: $64,565

Thomas H. Brandt, Assistant: $52,145

Joseph A. Scalzo, Assistant: $51,129

Cheryl L Nichols, Assistant : $46,311

Theresa L. Prezioso, Assistant: $46,311

Laura T. Bittner, Assistant: $43,884

John P. Granchelli, Assistant: $43,884

Maria H. Stoelting, Assistant: $35,331

David A. Hoffmann, Assistant: $34,078

John N. Philipps Jr., Assistant: $30,381



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

SEP 10, 2013