Seven months after retiring from Assemblyman Gary Finch's staff, Thomas Galbato is now receiving a modest monthly pension.
The state comptroller's office revealed Wednesday that Galbato's pension calculation was completed Jan. 11. His gross monthly pension is $318.47.
Galbato's pension was calculated using the formula established under state law. It was based on his service credit, state pension tier, final average salary and his age at the time of retirement, according to the comptroller's office.
Galbato, who owns Tom Thumb Drive In in Owasco and has operated other businesses in the Auburn area for many years, retired from his job as a state legislative aide in July. He was on Finch's staff for 15 years.
Finch, R-Springport, described Galbato's role as a part-time driver and photographer. But time sheets and other documents obtained by The Citizen last year raised questions about Galbato's work for Finch.
When Finch injured his ankle in June 2016, he had a two-month stay at The Commons on St. Anthony in Auburn for rehabilitation. But Galbato continued to file time sheets reporting he worked three six-hour shifts a week — 36 hours in a two-week pay period — as a part-time aide.
Finch explained that Galbato would usually bring him documents. The visits would occur after Tom Thumb closed for the night during the summer months.
Last year, there were at least 20 days Galbato reported working six-hour shifts despite Finch being in Albany for session.
"He's certainly not driving me around," Finch said in June. "He does not drive me around very much even when he was doing it. Mostly it's the photographic stuff and then he would be putting together those pictures."
Finch added that Galbato's other duties included clipping news stories and editing photos. Finch's office would send the articles to constituents.
One of Galbato's other duties, according to Finch was "monitoring the pulse of whatever is going on" in the community.
"Those are the jobs," he added. "It's not much of a job, that's for sure."
After The Citizen's initial story on Galbato's status as an aide to Finch, the pair corrected a time sheet that was submitted claiming Galbato worked six-hour shifts on May 15, May 16 and May 17.
However, Finch previously said that Galbato suffered a minor heart attack on May 14 and hadn't worked in his office after the medical emergency. The corrected time sheet changed the six-hour shifts on May 15, May 16 and May 17 from "legislative duties" to paid sick time.
Additional records showed Galbato remained on Finch's payroll for while spending winters in Florida. Friends and former neighbors recalled Galbato being a "snowbird" who would spend at least part of the winter in Florida. He owned a house in Fort Pierce before he sold it in 2013. That year, he bought a two-bedroom condominium.
The pension was one of several benefits Galbato received as a state Assembly employee. While his salary was modest — he was due to earn $8,851 in 2017 before his retirement — he had health insurance coverage through the Empire Plan. He also received hundreds of hours of paid time off. During his 15-year stint with Finch, he used 750 hours of vacation leave, 211 hours of sick leave and 34 hours of personal leave.
As a part-time employee, it was optional for Galbato to enroll in the state pension system. He became a member of the state retirement system in 1983, according to records.
Before his 15-year tenure with Finch, Galbato worked for nearly a decade as a part-time aide to then-Assemblyman Clarence Rappleyea.