ALBANY – Former New York State Bridge Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero is back working for his old boss – State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. He was quietly appointed to the post on February 20.
Ruggiero, who got the former Bridge Authority board of commissioners to pay him $93,000 in severance pay when he resigned, but was kept on in an “advisory” capacity, while actually running for Dutchess County executive, is back at work in Albany with a state job paying $137,000.
A footnote in the state inspector general’s report stated:
“The investigation found no evidence that Ruggiero campaigned for public office during the period following his February 22, 2019 resignation as Bridge Authority executive director and while employed as executive assistant to the acting executive director until March 12, 2019. Further, the investigation revealed no Bridge Authority payments to Ruggiero after his separation from service apart from this severance package.”
County Executive Marcus Molinaro defeated Ruggiero last fall and said he would not have hired him back for the state job.
“I wouldn’t have made that decision and he would not have been my first choice,” Molinaro said.
Ruggiero was a former deputy state comptroller in the past and now has the title of assistant deputy comptroller in the retirement redesign division.
On Monday, the New York State Investigator General released a report that was critical of the severance pay that Ruggiero received. In part, the report recommends that “the new board should evaluate the feasibility of seeking a return of a portion of Ruggiero’s ultimate payout as voted by the previous board.” Additional criticism of the payout resulted in the Inspector General saying “The Office of the New York State Comptroller review Ruggiero’s severance package to determine if any adjustment or reductions are appropriate to his ultimate pension calculation.”
Earlier in his career, Ruggiero was a Wappinger town councilman and later, town supervisor.
Ruggiero did not respond to requests for comment about the inspector general’s report or his reappointment.