2 former state troopers charged in overtime fraud scheme

Massachusetts State Police. (WLNE)

BOSTON (AP) — A former Massachusetts State Police lieutenant and sergeant were arrested Friday on charges that they stole tens of thousands of dollars in an overtime pay fraud scheme and destroyed documents in an attempt to cover it up.

Former police Lt. Daniel Griffin and Sgt. William Robertson are charged in federal court with conspiracy, federal programs embezzlement and wire fraud. Griffin also faces additional charges related to a separate scheme to defraud a private school, prosecutors said.

Emails seeking comment were sent to their attorneys.

“Today’s charges involve losses for the taxpayers, and also for the Massachusetts State Police, a premier law enforcement institution that must do a better job self-policing and eliminating this kind of misconduct,” U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling said at a news conference announcing the charges.

Between at least 2015 and 2018, Griffin and Robertson, who were part of the Traffic Programs Section at State Police Headquarters in Framingham, arrived late to and left early from federally funded overtime shifts on a “coordinated and routine basis” and then tried to conceal the fraud by making bogus entries in the police force’s record keeping system, Lelling told reporters.

During some of the shifts, they were supposed to be manning sobriety checkpoints looking for drunken drivers, authorities said.

When the troopers found out that federal officials were investigating overtime fraud within State Police, Lelling said they destroyed evidence by shredding and burning documents and forms in attempt to cover up their crimes.

“Everyone must be treated equally under the law, and we will keep doing these cases until this kind of abuse stops — abuse that is deeply unfair to the vast majority of law enforcement officers who are doing their job the right way, already under difficult circumstances,” Lelling said in an emailed statement.

Authorities say Griffin also ran a security business called KnightPro on the side, and used hundreds of thousands of dollars in income from that business to pay for things like private school tuition for his children. Prosecutors say he also filed misleading financial aid applications that understated his income to get more than $175,000 in financial aid from the private school over several years.

“The conduct as alleged is unacceptable and does not represent the standards and professionalism expected of Massachusetts State Troopers,” State Police commander Col. Christopher Mason said in a statement.

Three other troopers were referenced but not named in the indictments. Mason’s statement said their identities are known to the department and they are all subject to Internal Affairs investigations.

In a separate overtime scandal, 46 current and retired troopers who worked for the now disbanded Troop E, which patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike, were implicated in a scheme in which they collected overtime pay for shifts they either did not work or did not complete from 2015 until 2017.

Ten were charged criminally, some were disciplined or fired and at least one has lost his pension, although that decision has been appealed.

That scandal led to several reforms, including GPS tracking in cruisers, increased supervisory oversight, regular time and attendance audits, and additional ethical training.

©The Associated Press 2020

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