State Marshal [constable] John T. Fiorillo, Connecticut’s most prolific server of legal papers, reclaimed his spot as the marshal with the highest reported income in 2012, even though his earnings were barely one-fifth what they were during the height of the foreclosure crisis.
Fiorillo reported about $681,000 in gross income last year, nearly all of it earned by delivering foreclosure papers to homeowners sued by the state’s two major foreclosure firms, Hunt Leibert Jacobson in Hartford and Bendett & McHugh in Farmington.
Foreclosure lawsuits peaked in 2009, with more than 27,000 filed in Connecticut — more than 100 for every court day — before falling dramatically in 2010 and 2011. But last year, foreclosures rebounded, and so did the income of some marshals.
Fiorillo’s income doubled in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to disclosure forms filed with the Office of State Ethics. But his earnings are still a fraction of what they once were, after a series of reforms cut into his lucrative foreclosure-serving business. In 2009, Fiorillo collected $3 million in fees and reported $1 million in income after expenses, partly by acting as a middle-man between foreclosure firms and marshals who actually delivered the papers, an arrangement that then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal later deemed illegal.
In total, 230 state marshals reported collecting more than $22 million in fees last year. That is about the same amount as the year before, though it’s difficult to compare the years because marshals who leave office are not required to file disclosure forms. John Lepito was the highest-grossing marshal in 2011, collecting more than $900,000 in fees. But he died earlier this year before filing paperwork for 2012.
Seventy-three marshals reported gross income in excess of a $100,000 in 2012, and 23 topped $250,000. But many also reported very large amounts for business expenses, including Fiorillo, who reported $320,000 in office and transportation expenses — nearly half his income.
While Fiorillo had the highest gross income among marshals who filed financial disclosure forms, Marshal Brian Sheftel had the highest income after expenses. Sheftel reported about $574,000 in gross income and $540,000 after expenses, with most of that earned from attaching bank accounts or other assets to satisfy legal judgments. Marshals are entitled to a 15 percent fee when seizing assets.
Those attachments have become a significant driver of income for the top-earning marshals; last year, six of the ten highest-grossing marshals collected most of their money executing attachments. But overall, delivering legal papers accounted for 70 percent of the fees collected by marshals, who charge for delivery, mileage and copies. Delivering papers to a single address typically generates fees of about $100.
As is true in all of life, however, constable’s earnings are largely dependent upon who they know; the right relationship with a large law firm gets the bucks, and not every constable has them
While some marshals consistently report large incomes, most make far less, with half earning no more than $34,000 after expenses. Sixteen reported losing money.