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Top paid New York State employee of 2020: a teacher at Attica

Pamela Small made $2.1M as a result of a lawsuit against the State Department of Corrections, two superintendents at Attica, and a corrections officer.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A viewer called me Thursday and asked if I had been on the SeeThroughNY.net website recently.

I hadn’t. But I am very familiar with the site run by the fiscally conservative non-profit The Empire Center. It has lots of good information about state government.

The viewer (he didn’t give his name) said I should have a look at the top paid state government employees from last year. Still on the phone with the viewer, I got to the link, sorted through the state employees pay and the next sentence out of my mouth was, “That can’t be right.”

The website said a Pamela Small, who is listed as working at the Attica Correctional Facility made in 2020 … $2,169,734.

Credit: The Empire Center

I knew that there were state employees who make more than $500,000. Most work either in the SUNY system or at a state hospital. But more than $2 million was way more than the next highest paid employee.

So, I emailed the CEO of The Empire Center, Tim Hoefer, and asked if there was some sort or error on the website.

A half-hour later, Hoefer responded, “This is not, in fact, an error.”

In 2012, Small had filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department of Corrections, two superintendents at Attica, and a corrections officer, Carl Cuer.

Small alleged that over a three-year period, Cuer has harassed and stalked her, resulting in a psychological breakdown. The lawsuit claimed that two officials at the prison, Sandra Dolce and James Conway has not done enough to end the harassment.

The trial took six-years to play out, and at the end, $7-million dollars was awarded to Small.

Hoefer tells 2 On Your Side it’s common for these kinds of awards paid out in installments. It would appear the $2.1M that shows up as Small’s pay is one of these installments. It shows up as Small’s salary because it was paid out of state funds.

2 On Your Side did reach out to Small and her attorney Jennifer Shoemaker of Rochester, but we did not immediately receive a reply.


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