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Buffalo Fire Headquarters payroll administrator denies tampering with deductions to increase check

A payroll administrator at Buffalo Fire Headquarters denies improperly changing her own Social Security payroll deductions to increase her paycheck.

“She engaged in no wrongdoing, and once the facts come out, that will be proven,” Michael F. Drennen, president of the city’s white-collar union, Local 650, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said Thursday on the payroll administrator’s behalf.

Drennen also said the union is filing a not-guilty plea on behalf of Jill M. Parisi, senior administrative aide assigned to Fire Headquarters.

The Brown administration has filed disciplinary charges against Parisi, basically accusing the 49-year-old city employee of using her position for her own financial benefit.

Prior to Parisi being served with the charges, she and Drennen last week declined to comment on the accusations. But having now received a copy of the charges, Drennen issued the denial Thursday and said he could not comment further.

Drennen said that an informational hearing for Parisi and the Brown administration is expected to be held within the next 10 days, when the administration will detail its charges and the union will offer its response. Typically during these hearings, the city also discloses what discipline it is seeking.

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement during the hearing, the case will likely end up in arbitration.

Parisi has been a city employee for 22 years, working almost all of those years in Fire Headquarters.

The City Comptroller’s Office discovered Feb. 2 that Parisi’s payroll withholding had been electronically lowered just prior to a paycheck being issued, then restored once the check was issued, then lowered again before the next paycheck was to be issued. Her Social Security/Medicare FICA deductions were among the payments that were lowered, increasing her two-week paychecks by hundreds of dollars. FICA deductions are a set percentage deduction, and are not suppose to be changed.

After it was determined that the change was made using Parisi’s login, she was immediately placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 2 while the Brown administration investigated. The administration filed disciplinary charges against Parisi on Feb. 12 and placed her on unpaid suspension.

Parisi has a base pay of $59,926 but, with overtime, was on track to earn about $100,000 in the current 2015-16 fiscal year.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com