Why 51 state employees in Delaware made over $200,000 in 2020, nearly double from 2019

Sarah Gamard
Delaware News Journal

Fifty-one state employees made more than $200,000 in 2020, nearly double the number of people who made that sum the year before.

That's according to a database of state employee salaries provided by the state Office of Management and Budget.

The plethora of high earners is due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic demanding more hours of top health officials and Black Lives Matter protests prompting police to clock in an unrivaled amount of overtime.

Dr. Rick Hong, the medical director of the Division of Public Health, was the highest-paid employee last year – and the only employee to make above $300,000. His total earnings amounted to $301,321, which includes overtime and "other" earnings.

Delaware state employees can make "other" earnings in a variety of ways, ranging from stipends, health care cost supplements, coaching a school sports team or serving on the state police scuba diving unit. How each employee earns this money is not specified in the data.

Hong is one of 11 health department employees who made more than $200,000 last year. Also on the list was Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health, who was the state's fourth-highest-paid employee with $256,519 total earnings, which includes overtime and "other" earnings.

Normally, senior-level managers like Rattay and Hong don't make overtime, but the COVID-19 pandemic made for special circumstances, according to Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Jill Fredel.

The two officials, who over the course of the pandemic became two of the leading faces of Delaware's COVID-19 response, became eligible for overtime due to the activation of the State Health Operations Center at the start of the pandemic, she wrote in an email.

"The prolonged duration and intense pace of operations caused Dr. Rattay and Dr. Hong to consistently work over 70 hours a week and sometimes more, managing an 850-person public health agency through a once-in-a-century pandemic response for more than a year," Fredel wrote.

Their responsibilities last included public appearances in town halls and media briefings; regular meetings with the governor and legislators; overseeing testing and vaccination operations; managing staff and funding; developing guidelines for businesses and schools; and COVID-19 data analysis, among a litany of other tasks, according to Fredel.

The list also includes 26 Department of Safety and Homeland Security employees, including 22 state police officers. Those officers cumulatively pulled in $1.8 million in overtime last year.

It's a noticeable increase compared with 2019 when nine officers made above $200,000 after cumulatively pulling in $683,347 in overtime.

Officers worked more overtime than usual due to Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, President Joe Biden's Delaware-based campaign and businesses wanting more security for their stores, according to Delaware State Police spokesman Gary Fournier.

In an email, Fournier said officers also worked overtime due to "coverage for troop areas that were in need of additional patrol personnel due to COVID related illnesses."

Meanwhile, all state employees saw an increase in their salaries due to an extra week of pay seen only once every 11 years, thanks to biweekly payments not fitting perfectly into the 365-day year.

Because of this, court justices and judges who typically make just under $200,000 earned over that amount in 2020.

As in previous years, psychiatrists and nurses at the Delaware Psychiatric Center also topped the list.

Gov. John Carney was the 144th-highest-paid state employee with a $177,577-per-year salary. He did not make any money through overtime.

Delaware Online/The News Journal ranked employees who made the most in 2020, broken down by their regular salary and any extra cash they made through overtime or "other" earnings.

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The $200K club

Division of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong guides a shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at the agency's Kent County warehouse on Dec. 16, 2020.

1. Dr. Rick Hong, medical director at the Division of Public Health

TOTAL EARNINGS: $301,321

  • Regular salary $211,846
  • Overtime $81,495
  • Other $7,980

2. Brian Mulvena, Delaware State Police master corporal

TOTAL EARNINGS: $288,250

  • Regular salary $140,515
  • Overtime $146,686
  • Other $1,050

3. Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Technical Community College

TOTAL EARNINGS: $286,594

  • Regular salary $264,702
  • Other $21,892

4. Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health

TOTAL EARNINGS: $256,519

  • Regular salary $181,772
  • Overtime $65,887
  • Other $8,860

5. Gary Collins, chief medical examiner at the Division of Forensic Science

TOTAL EARNINGS: $254,519

  • Regular salary $254,519

6. John Samis, Delaware State Police sergeant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $248,990

  • Regular salary $135,082
  • Overtime $113,709
  • Other $200

7. Richard Margolis, medical director of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families

TOTAL EARNINGS: $246,895

  • Regular salary $246,895

8. Charity Ekeoma Wogu, former psychiatric nursing supervisor at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $240,446

  • Regular salary $53,503
  • Overtime $136,563
  • Other $50,381

Wogu retired last year.

9. Sherry Ann Nykiel, acting director at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $238,128

  • Regular salary $227,684
  • Overtime $611
  • Other $9,833

10. Jennie Vershvovsky, assistant medical examiner at the Division of Forensic Science

TOTAL EARNINGS: $235,731

  • Regular salary $235,731

11. Jennifer Swartz, assistant medical examiner at the Division of Forensic Science

TOTAL EARNINGS: $235,731

  • Regular salary $235,731

12. Francis Krolikowski, assistant medical examiner at the Division of Forensic Science

TOTAL EARNINGS: $235,731

  • Regular salary $235,731

13. Robert Jones, Delaware State Police lieutenant 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $234,357

  • Regular salary $141,062
  • Overtime $91,945
  • Other $1,350

14. Awele Nwamalubia Maduka-Ezeh, medical director for the Delaware Department of Correction

TOTAL EARNINGS: $231,920

  • Regular salary $230,777
  • Other $1,142

15. Christopher Martin, Delaware State Police sergeant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $229,056

  • Regular salary $107,791
  • Overtime $118,469
  • Other $2,796

16. Mark Gary Ryde, Delaware State Police master corporal 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $228,622

  • Regular salary $115,254
  • Overtime $112,118
  • Other $1,250

17. Ralph David Flowers, Delaware State Police master corporal

TOTAL EARNINGS: $225,345

  • Regular salary $120,832
  • Overtime $100,816
  • Other $3,696

18. William Paul Murray, Delaware State Police master corporal

TOTAL EARNINGS: $224,613

  • Regular salary $120,832
  • Overtime $102,731
  • Other $1,050

19. Erik Lochstoer, Delaware State Police master corporal

TOTAL EARNINGS: $223,151

  • Regular salary $81,051
  • Overtime $35,766
  • Other $106,334

20. Gerard Gallucci, psychiatrist and director at the Delaware Psychiatric Center Residency Program

TOTAL EARNINGS: $223,051

  • Regular salary $207,914
  • Overtime $865
  • Other $14,271

21. David Diana, Delaware State Police lieutenant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $221,677

  • Regular salary $108,356
  • Overtime $112,296
  • Other $1,025

22. Dermot Alexander, Delaware State Police sergeant 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $219,970

  • Regular salary $119,220
  • Overtime $96,100
  • Other $4,650

23. Anthony Agbola, registered nurse at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $219,737

  • Regular salary $62,519
  • Overtime $127,403
  • Other $29,816

24. Ramita Shrestha, psychiatrist at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $219,450

  • Regular salary $202,645
  • Overtime $2,534
  • Other $14,271

25. Joseph McGrory, Delaware State Police master corporal 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $219,385

  • Regular salary $138,191
  • Overtime $80,844
  • Other $350

26. Daniel Michael Grimes, psychiatrist at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $218,605

  • Regular salary $202,645
  • Overtime $1,689
  • Other $14,271

27. Dolly Mishra, psychiatrist at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $218,183

  • Regular salary $202,645
  • Overtime $1,267
  • Other $14,271

28. Kevin Mack, Delaware State Police master corporal 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $217,765

  • Regular salary $130,414
  • Overtime $84,562
  • Other $2,790

29. Anthony Mendez, Delaware State Police sergeant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $217,309

  • Regular salary $139,436
  • Overtime $73,448
  • Other $4,425

30. Collins J. Seitz Jr., chief justice of the Supreme Court

TOTAL EARNINGS: $214,077

  • Regular salary $214,077

31. Darren Lester, Delaware State Police sergeant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $213,475

  • Regular salary $146,713
  • Overtime $65,593
  • Other $1,169

32. Kennedy Mahiga Muriuki, psychiatric nursing recruitment and training supervisor at Delaware Psychiatric Center  

TOTAL EARNINGS: $213,293

  • Regular salary $64,224
  • Overtime $135,694
  • Other $13,375

33. Jan Reed Jurden, president judge of the Superior Court

TOTAL EARNINGS: $211,872

  • Regular salary $204,305
  • Other $7,567

34. Michael Austin, Delaware State Police master corporal

TOTAL EARNINGS: $210,612

  • Regular salary $86,237
  • Overtime $25,029
  • Other $99,346

35. Joseph Jones, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District superintendent

TOTAL EARNINGS: $209,261

  • Regular salary $182,500
  • Other $26,761

36. Nathaniel McQueen, cabinet secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security

TOTAL EARNINGS: $208,737

  • Regular salary $204,768
  • Other $3,969

37. Patricia Hansen Figgs, psychiatrist at the Delaware Psychiatric Center

TOTAL EARNINGS: $208,556

  • Regular salary $192,621
  • Overtime $933
  • Other $15,003

38. Bret Ian McAfee, Delaware State Police master corporal 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $208,353

  • Regular salary $125,193
  • Overtime $79,564
  • Other $3,596

39. Troy Pezzuto, Delaware State Police sergeant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $208,259

  • Regular salary $134,564
  • Overtime $72,090
  • Other $1,605

40. Thomas Gaul, Delaware State Police master corporal 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $206,252

  • Regular salary $100,050
  • Overtime $103,598
  • Other $2,604

41. Glenn Dixon, Delaware State Police captain

TOTAL EARNINGS: $206,104

  • Regular salary $169,010
  • Overtime $36,169
  • Other $925

42. James T. Vaughn Jr., Supreme Court justice

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,831

  • Regular salary $204,831

43. Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, Supreme Court justice 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,831

  • Regular salary $204,831

44. Karen Lynn Valihura, Supreme Court justice 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,831

  • Regular salary $204,831

45. Gary Traynor, Supreme Court justice 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,831

  • Regular salary $204,831

46. Andre Bouchard, former chief judge on the Court of Chancery

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,305

  • Regular salary $204,305

Bouchard resigned from this position this year.

47. Michael Newell, chief judge on the Family Court

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,305

  • Regular salary $204,305

48. Michael Morton, former controller general

TOTAL EARNINGS: $204,032

  • Regular salary $149,748
  • Other $54,284

Morton retired in December. His "other" earnings were from benefits accrued as part of his retirement payout after more than 30 years as a state employee, according to the Controller General's office.

49. Roy Kenneth Bryant Jr., Delaware State Police master corporal 

TOTAL EARNINGS: $203,808

  • Regular salary $126,695
  • Overtime $74,318
  • Other $2,796

50. Blaine Quickel II, Delaware State Police sergeant

TOTAL EARNINGS: $202,568

  • Regular salary $146,178
  • Overtime $53,394
  • Other $2,996

51. Alex Smalls, chief judge of the Court of Common Pleas

TOTAL EARNINGS: $202,023

  • Regular salary $202,023

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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or sgamard@delawareonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.