December 7, 2011 09:13 AM
Village Official Draws Salary of More Than $500,000
Michael Castaldo Jr. serves as Bellwood's village attorney, works for several other public agencies and stands to get a taxpayer-funded pension some day.
By Patrick Rehkamp/BGA and Dane Placko/FOX Chicago
Only in Cook County could we bring you a story like this.
Michael Castaldo, Jr. is likely the highest paid municipal employee in the Chicago area. Castaldo makes $350,000 a year to represent the Village of Bellwood, for what’s not even a part-time job. Since 2001 Castaldo has worked as an attorney for the village of around 20,000 people, but when Bellwood decided to save money by cutting back on outside law firms, Castaldo’s paycheck began to inflate, from $85,000 in 2009, to $186,000 in 2010, to $350,000 this year.
Castaldo says he’s actually saving money for the taxpayers.
"For the same services I provide right now, those services were $1.1 million," Castaldo told FOX Chicago News.
"You have to wonder if the village attorney for Bellwood is worth twice as much as the corporation counsel for the City of Chicago," said Patrick Rehkamp, an investigator with the Better Government Association.
FOX Chicago News and the BGA found in addition to his job in Bellwood, Castaldo makes over $30,000 a year doing legal work for Stone Park, $50,000 from the Memorial Park District in Bellwood, $42,000 at Proviso Township High School District 209, and $60,000 from Bellwood School District 88.
That’s a total of $541,000 this year alone from five separate public payrolls.
"I work over 80 hours a week representing those agencies. I think they’re extremely comfortable and happy with the service I provide," Castaldo said.
Bellwood has a history of paying top dollar for public service. The recently retired Roy McCampbell was paid $472,000 while holding ten separate job titles. And last month FOX Chicago News brought you the story of Floyd Green, who we found sleeping outside Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale’s home. Green made $170,000 in 2009 for a job that included trapping skunks and shoveling driveways for seniors.
Bellwood Chief of Staff Peter Tsiolis says Castaldo has saved Bellwood taxpayers thousands of dollars.
"There are probably a lot of attorneys that would never touch this job for considerably more," Tsiolis said.
Still, many Bellwood residents told us, they’d like to see the village hire a much cheaper attorney.
This story was reported and written by BGA Senior Investigator Patrick Rehkamp, and Dane Placko of FOX Chicago News. To contact Rehkamp, email email@example.com or call (312) 386-9201.
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