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Denver Gives Another Raise To Worker Who Stayed Home

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)- The City of Denver has given another pay increase and positive rating to a senior assistant city attorney who did not work and was not assigned any cases since July 2014.

CBS4 and learned this week that Denver just gave Assistant City Attorney Stuart Shapiro a "successful" rating for 2015 and about a $4,000 per year salary increase effective this month. That, even though Shapiro did not work all of 2015 and did not work for the last 19 months, nor was he assigned any cases. Shapiro's salary will now rise from $142,922 to $147,066 when the raise takes effect this month.

It's the second "successful" rating and second pay increase Shapiro has received since he was placed on leave in July 2014. City officials have refused to discuss the Shapiro case.

Stuart Shapiro
(credit: CBS)

"At the end of the day it's important that a person does get due process. That's where I put my stake in the ground," said City Attorney Scott Martinez when approached last month by CBS4 about the case of Shapiro. "At the end of the day the buck stops with me."

Martinez refused to discuss specifics of the Shapiro case saying, "I'm not at liberty to discuss specific personnel matters."

The city placed Shapiro on paid administrative leave July 21, 2014 saying they wanted to review his conduct in overseeing the case of Jamal Hunter, a former Denver jail inmate. The city agreed to pay Hunter $3.25 million for injuries he received while incarcerated at the Denver jail. But the City Attorney's Office apparently had questions about Shapiro's conduct overseeing the case and sent him home on paid investigative leave.

scott martinez
CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass interviews City Attorney Scott Martinez (credit: CBS)

Shapiro was ordered not to go to work and to turn in his building access cards and keys. Shapiro and his attorney, Nathan Chambers, declined to comment to CBS4 about the duration of the paid leave or what's going on behind the scenes.

The CBS4 investigation asked via open records request how many cases had been assigned to Shapiro during 2015 and the answer from the City Attorney's Office was "zero."

The agency was also asked how many times Shapiro had entered the office in 2015.

"We do not have a record readily available to answer this question, but believe the answer would be zero to five," said an administrator for the City Attorney's Office.

But that didn't stop the city from giving Shapiro another three percent raise effective this month.

According to additional records collected by in January 2015, after Shapiro had been on leave for six months, he was given a performance review and graded as having had a "successful' performance, even though he apparently did no work and had been ordered to stay away from his office. Consequently, the city awarded him a nearly $4,000 annual merit increase for his 2014 performance. obtained other records that showed most city employees currently on paid leave remain that way for less than two months, with the longest on leave for just over half a year. More than a year ago Shapiro filed a notice with the city, indicating he might eventually sue over being placed on leave and stating his case. In that notice Shapiro said he was being used as a "scapegoat in the Hunter case due to public pressure."

The document filed by Shapiro's lawyer contends "There was no valid or factual justification to place Mr. Shapiro on leave ... the actions of the City of Denver and the City Attorney's Office were an attempt to justify the unjustifiable $3.25 million settlement of the Hunter case. The facts of the Hunter case did not warrant a seven figure damage award under any circumstances."

Shapiro said the case and subsequent leave has ruined a 30-year legal career and curtailed his hopes to eventually become a judge.

Documents released Thursday by the city attorney show that two days after the original CBS4 report February 10 on Shapiro's long paid leave, the city attorney lifted the paid leave and had Shapiro begin working again.

In an email to Shapiro dated March 2, the city attorney's office wrote, "Your paid administrative leave ended as of February 12, 2016 when you were reassigned from the Litigation Section to the Muni Ops Section… Additionally now that you have been reassigned, the CAO will not pursue disciplinary action for matters predating the reassignment."

The note goes on to state that the city attorney "does not have an available office for your immediate use" and says Shapiro will work from home.

CBS4 requested an interview with City Attorney Scott Martinez to explain what the nearly two year investigation of Shapiro turned up, why he was placed on leave in the first place, and why he was allowed to return to work.

Martinez is refusing to answer those questions, "As this is a personnel matter I cannot discuss the specifics of the matter."

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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