BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts State Police have temporarily relieved four troopers of duty in the ongoing scandal over overtime pay.
Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the state police, said Monday the decision is a result of the department's continued review of records and data indicative of whether members were "present and working overtime shifts for which they were paid."
There are scheduled internal hearings for the unidentified officers to determine their duty status will be during the investigation.
Internal affairs investigators with the Massachusetts State Police saw warning signs of the overtime pay scandal currently rocking the department years ago, yet the agency failed to act, according to a Boston Globe report published Monday.
Investigators in 2014 were looking for evidence that two troopers were secretly escorting funeral processions and taking cash under the table, but during that probe they found that troopers had routinely filed for more than 30 hours a week in overtime and paid details they either didn't work or didn't complete, according to internal files reviewed by the newspaper.
Those details never made it into the investigators' final report.
A state police audit earlier this year found that more than 20 troopers may have been paid overtime for shifts they did not work. More than 40 state troopers are now under investigation in connection to the overtime scandal and several are facing criminal charges as part of a wide-ranging federal investigation.
In addition, at least eight of the people flagged in the department's own internal inspections for extraordinary overtime since 2011 are now under investigation by prosecutors for suspected fraudulent overtime more recently.
A department spokesman said he was "unaware of any systemic response" to potential overtime discrepancies pinpointed in agency audits.
Gilpin, who took over command in November, said the agency has made several changes since, including requiring troopers to show up for a face-to-face roll call at some point in each eight-hour shift, better tracking of high earners, and activating GPS devices in police vehicles.
"We owe the public to be transparent and do whatever we can do to show people we are serious about earning back the public trust," Gilpin said.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com