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National News

April 17, 2010

Ex-congressman: Someone forged aide's pay increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former congressman Eric Massa said Saturday that someone forged a $40,000 salary increase for his chief of staff, who has accused the ex-lawmaker of sexual harassment.

The New York Democrat also denied authorizing a check from a campaign account in the same amount to the same official, Joe Racalto, according to a statement released by Massa's attorney.

"The amount of $40,000 was determined solely by Mr. Racalto," said the statement to The Associated Press. "Mr. Racalto never communicated the $40,000 amount of the payment to Mr. Massa."

The statement also alleged that "someone forged then-Congressman Massa's signature on forms raising Mr. Racalto's own salary as a member of the congressman's personal staff from $120,000 per year to the maximum permissible level of $160,000." The statement did not say when that happened.

"These matters continue to be under review and the appropriate authorities will be provided with all the relevant information," Massa's campaign said.

Massa's attorney Milo Silberstein declined to answer any questions Saturday after issuing the campaign's statement.

Racalto is among those who have accused Massa of sexual harassment.

Racalto's lawyer, Camilla McKinney, could not be reached for immediate comment Saturday.

McKinney said Friday the check was a "deferred payment" for Racalto's work this year and last on the congressman's 2010 re-election campaign and for work on Massa's 2008 transition.

The payment to Racalto came as allegations about his boss sexually harassing young male staffers in his office were becoming public.

Racalto is still working in Massa's former congressional office, but he plans to leave May 1 to work for a nonprofit organization in New York, McKinney said.

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