NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL DENNIS C. VACCO IS investigating a $42-million severance package given to former LILCO Chairman William Catacosinos, complicating the takeover of troubled Long Island Lighting Co. by state-run Long Island Power Authority.
orney General Vacco on June 8 announced he had issued formal subpoenas concerning "secret" payments made to utility executives. "The revelation of these payments ratifies Governor Pataki's actions in dismantling LILCO's power monopoly on Long Island," Vacco said. "But let's be clear: The governor's plan did not absolve LILCO executives from their obligation to be accountable to Long Island ratepayers and LILCO shareholders."
Vacco said the payments add "insult to the injury that Long Islanders suffered at the greedy hands of the utility's managers."
Gov. George Pataki (R) has sided with LIPA. Pataki has called the payments "outrageous" and "disgraceful," while demanding that Catacosinos return the money and leave his position. Yet some say this move is little more than election-year politics.
Pataki's term expires at the end of the year.
Many observers defended Catacosinos and the deal he arranged with LIPA. The takeover resulted in a 20 percent rate cut for all Long Island ratepayers; refund checks will arrive in September, just in time for the New York elections. No employees were laid off as the result of the merger. Under Catacosinos' leadership, LILCO's stock value rose dramatically.
LIPA Fights Back