Massa, Ex-Aide Go to Court Over $40,000 Dispute

Posted August 5, 2011 at 12:25pm

Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) will face off against his ex-chief of staff in a New York trial, the Hornell Evening Tribune reported Friday.

The state Supreme Court dismissed the aide’s request to throw out the case Thursday, forcing a public battle over a $40,000 payment to the former chief of staff, Joseph Racalto, at the end of Massa’s tenure in Congress, the New York paper reported.

Massa is trying to recoup the money. His lawyers argue that Racalto forged his boss’ signature to give himself the $40,000 check without Massa’s permission.

But Racalto says it was a rightful payment for campaign work he did before the Congressman resigned and that the lawsuit is merely retribution for leaking information regarding Massa’s alleged improprieties with staff.

The trial comes as the House Ethics Committee investigates allegations that Massa sexually harassed a male staff member. The panel announced last month that it had voted to re-open the investigation, which began in April 2010 during the 111th Congress.

Massa resigned in March 2010, citing a recurrence of cancer.