BOSTON (CBS) – Nine current and former Boston Police officers were arrested at their homes Wednesday morning and charged with overtime fraud at an evidence warehouse, federal investigators said.
The officers, six of whom are now retired, were working in the department’s Evidence Control Unit, storing and retrieving evidence at the warehouse on overtime shifts.
“It is alleged that beginning in at least May 2016, the defendants routinely departed overtime shifts two or more hours early but submitted false and fraudulent overtime slips claiming to have worked the entirety of each shift,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston said in a statement announcing the indictment Wednesday.
The nine officers are now charged with committing more than $200,000 in overtime fraud for nearly three years.
They were identified as:
Lieutenant Timothy Torigian, 54, of Walpole
Sergeant Gerard O’Brien (retired), 62, of Braintree
Sergeant Robert Twitchell (retired), 58, of Norton
Officer Henry Doherty (retired), 61, of Dorchester
Officer Diana Lopez (retired), 58, of Milton
Officer James Carnes (retired), 57, of Canton
Officer Michael Murphy, 60, of Hyde Park
Officer Ronald Nelson (retired), 60, of Jamaica Plain
Officer Kendra Conway, 49, of Boston
Each was charged in a Grand Jury indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds.
Six officers entered not guilty pleas in virtual hearings in federal court in Boston where a judge magistrate allowed them to leave on personal recognizance. Three more are set for arraignment next week.
“These allegations are an affront to the thousands of police officers who do their jobs every day with honesty, integrity, and bravery,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.
“I am outraged and, quite frankly, outright disgusted at the utter breach of trust by these nine individuals at the Boston Police Department. I commend Commissioner Gross and our federal partners for bringing these actions to light.”
Investigators say the overtime shifts from May 2016 to February 2019 were funded with federal grants.
According to the indictment, the officers and their supervisors routinely handed in time sheets claiming they had worked a full overtime shift, but alarm records at the warehouse showed no one was in the building when the officers claimed to be working.
“The shift was supposed to be performed from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays. On days which the defendants claimed to have worked until 8:00 p.m., the warehouse was closed, locked and alarmed well before 8:00 p.m., and often by 6:00 p.m. or before,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Federal prosecutors said Lt. Timothy Torigian was paid more than $43,000 for overtime hours he did not work. He earned $246,405 in income in 2018 from the city of Boston.
The court documents also allege Sgt. Robert Twitchell, Sgt. Gerard O’Brien and Officer Henry Doherty were each paid more than $25,000 for overtime they didn’t work.
“These officers are charged with stealing taxpayer money, year after year, through fraud. Beyond the theft of funds, this kind of official misconduct also erodes trust in public institutions, at a time when that trust is most needed. I want to thank Commissioner Willie Gross for his cooperation in this case, and the BPD’s Anti-Corruption Unit for its assistance,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in the statement.
Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said the three officers indicted that currently work for the department have been suspended without pay during the investigation.
“The allegations and behavior alleged in today’s indictments is very troubling and in no way reflect the attitudes of the hard-working employees of the Boston Police Department. I hold my officers to the highest standards and expect them to obey all the laws that they have taken an oath to uphold. News of these indictments sends a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated or ignored and can damage the trust my officers have worked so hard to build with the communities we serve,” Gross said.