State police look to fire 22 implicated in OT pay scandal
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts State Police will move to fire 22 troopers implicated in an overtime abuse scandal, the agency’s commander said Friday.
The troopers were told Thursday that the department would pursue termination, although they will have the opportunity to appeal the decision through a trial board, Col. Christopher Mason said.
The department will also seek reimbursement of any pay received fraudulently, he said.
“In every case, we will require that the trooper reimburse the taxpayer, dollar for dollar, any money paid for hours not worked, in addition to a substantive punitive penalty,” Mason said at a news conference at the department’s Framingham headquarters. The agency did not disclose how much that might be.
The scandal led to several reforms at the agency, including GPS tracking in cruisers, increased supervisory oversight, regular time and attendance audits, and additional ethical training.
Forty-six current and retired troopers who worked for the now disbanded Troop E, which patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike, were implicated in the scheme in which they collected overtime pay for shifts they either did not work or did not complete from 2015 until 2017, authorities said. Often, they said, the troopers issued falsified traffic tickets to make it appear as if they had been on duty.
Of the 46, 10 have been criminally charged and 14 had retired. The 22 who face termination are those who have not been criminally charged and have not yet retired. The allegations they faced were sustained by an internal investigation, Mason said. No names were released.
Of the 22, 13 are currently on active duty and nine have been suspended without pay, state police spokesman David Procopio said. There is a possibility some could also face criminal charges.
Mason said restitution would also be sought from the troopers who retired, and the State Retirement Board will be informed, possibly putting their state pensions in jeopardy.
The troopers’ union blamed the scandal on previous leadership and said it would work with Mason, who has led the agency since November, to move the department forward with integrity.
“The overwhelming majority of troopers serve with distinction every day and as an Association we will continue to defend the rights of our members,” the State Police Association of Massachusetts said in a statement. “The pervasive culture of Troop E existed because of a failure of those then in command which impacts every trooper to this day.”