Overtime Fraud Allegations At State Police Under Investigation
07/10/12 5:50PM By John Dillon  Download MP3
Governor Peter Shumlin says his administration has launched an investigation into allegations of fraudulent overtime accounting by Vermont state police.
The probe follows the resignation of a state police sergeant who authorities suspect may have charged the state for overtime he did not work.
Shumlin announced the investigation at a hastily convened late afternoon news conference. The governor said Sergeant James Deeghan resigned Tuesday morning after being confronted with allegations that he had fraudulently charged the state for overtime.
"We have a two track investigation taking place immediately. The first is a criminal investigation to see if fraudulent activity took place," Shumlin said. "The second is, I've directed my Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding to immediately engage an independent auditor to look at how, and if, there is a pattern of activity of this kind in any other areas of the state police."
Officials said the 49-year-old Deeghan had been with the state police since 1990. He was working out of the Williston barracks. Shumlin said officials are trying to determine how much overtime may have been improperly charged. Shumlin said Deeghan's salary was unusually high.
"He reported roughly $123,000 in earnings last year. That's roughly $50,000 higher than his base pay," he said. "That's obviously something we're looking at closely. We also are immediately investigating how far this goes back."
The allegations came to light when another police officer went to record overtime pay. Shumlin said that trooper didn't know the proper code and looked at the coding on the pay sheet Deeghan had used. Shumlin said the officer then suspected that Deeghan had reported overtime for work that he hadn't done. The officer then reported the issue to authorities.
Colonel Thomas L'Esperance is the director of the Vermont State Police. He said other officers are dismayed by the allegations.
"This is a case where a public servant was trusted with a job to do and he betrayed his badge, his core values," he said. "And across the state this will have a shock among state police members."
Deeghan has not been charged with a crime. Officials said Deeghan was no longer a member of the state police union, and they weren't sure if was represented by a lawyer.
Deeghan could not be reached immediately for comment.
The overtime allegations were first reported by the Burlington Free Press. In an interview with the Free Press, Deeghan said that he had worked double duty for about half the year because of staffing shortages.
The Free Press says Deeghan was eligible to retire in March, and that retirement pay is based on the average of a trooper's two highest paid years.