St Tammany DA Update – 9/2/14

Tammany DA’s arrangement with School Board raises questions

By Sara Pagones and Katie Moore

At first glance, Harry Pastuszek doesn’t appear to be one of the highest-paid lawyers on 22nd Judicial District Attorney Walter Reed’s staff. Information provided by the office says that in 2012 he earned $68,422, with a portion of it covered by the state.

But Pastuszek’s association with Reed’s office is far more lucrative than that figure indicates. Like many of the assistant district attorneys on Reed’s staff, Pastuszek provides legal counsel for another governmental body, in his case the St. Tammany Parish School Board.

And in Pastuszek’s case, the money goes not to the District Attorney’s Office but to his private law firm — more than $500,000 last year alone.

Pastuszek doesn’t appear to have any other duties in Reed’s office other than representing the School Board.

He bills the School Board $150 an hour for his legal services and $70 an hour for administrative, secretarial and paralegal time.

That’s resulted in huge payoffs: $440,666 in 2011, $475,194 in 2012 and a whopping $545,399 in 2013. So far this year, Pastuszek’s firm — which takes on a variety of other legal matters as well — has been paid $320,700 by the School Board.

But even though Pastuszek’s link to the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office is tenuous, he was one of a select group Reed singled out for enhanced retirement benefits in an unusual program that was paid for entirely with public money. He was one of 11 employees, including Reed himself, who got the extra perk.

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