Officials See More Time Sheet Problems For Vt. Trooper
07/24/12 5:50PM By John Dillon
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Investigators looking into alleged overtime fraud by a former state police officer have found other irregularities in his pay records.
The news came as Governor Peter Shumlin and other officials provided an update on the state police investigation.
Officials are also conducting a broader look at potential overtime accounting problems throughout state government. But Shumlin and other officials say the case appears so far to be an isolated incident.
"At this time there's no reason to believe there's widespread time sheet fraud in Vermont," Shumlin said.
Former State Police Sergeant James Deeghan has been charged with two felonies for allegedly charging the state for time he didn't work.
Shumlin said state police investigators are going back through Deeghan's payroll records and will turn over any new evidence to the state's attorney's office by August 3.
"It's important to note that since we met last we have discovered two sets of time sheets, which makes our work more complex," he said.
And Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn says investigators have discovered some additional irregularities in Deeghan's earlier time sheets.
"And I will just they are anomalies. We're not saying they're criminal activity yet," Flynn said. "We're just saying they're anomalies we're looking at."
But Flynn, like Shumlin, said the alleged fraud appears to be confined to Deeghan. He said the state police are devoting 16 investigators to the case - in part because the reputation of those in uniform is on the line.
"This incident of alleged fraud does not definite the Vermont state police," Flynn said. "This is not the worst incident that has ever happened to the Vermont state police, it's far from it. And it certainly does not define the Vermont state police. We're going to be judged from in our view on how we move forward.... so we can assure there's the honesty and reporting that we need."
Yet officials also plan a broader look at potential overtime irregularities in state government. State Auditor Tom Salmon says his staff will first go through the Department of Public Safety records, then look throughout state government.
"All states are concerned about time sheet fraud, as well as expense report fraud," Salmon said. "So I think Vermonters need to know that any state employee could potentially have their times sheets looked at in this second audit."
Salmon says his office will use data analytics software to look for potential abuse in employee time sheets. He also said his office may spend about $100,000 on an outside consultant as part of the investigation.