BOSTON (WHDH) - Nine current and former Boston police officers were arrested Wednesday morning and charged in connection with committing more than $200,000 in overtime fraud at the Boston Police Department’s evidence warehouse, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Lt. Timothy Torigian, 54, of Walpole; Sgt. Gerard O’Brien (retired), 62, of Braintree; Sgt. 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; and Officer Kendra Conway, 49, of Boston, were each charged in an indictment unsealed today with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds.
All of the officers, six of whom are retired, have since made initial appearances via videoconference in federal court in Boston. They all pleaded not guilty.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said, “I am a strong supporter of the police, especially in these difficult times. But all must be treated equally under the law, regardless of wealth, power or station. 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.”
Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross said, “As a result of an investigation, information was uncovered by the Boston Police Department’s Anti-Corruption Unit regarding alleged payroll/overtime abuse by officers assigned to the Evidence Management Unit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorney’s Office became involved with the criminal investigation into the allegations. As a result of the investigation, former and current Boston Police Officers were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury. Pursuant to applicable law, the officers indicted that currently work for the department have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case. 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.”
The indictment alleges the nine officers were assigned to Boston Police Department’s Evidence Control Unit, where they were responsible for storing, cataloging, and retrieving evidence at the warehouse, and that beginning in at least May 2016, they routinely departed overtime shifts two or more hours early but submitted false and fraudulent overtime slips.
One overtime shift, called “purge” overtime, was focused on reducing the inventory of the evidence warehouse.
The shift was supposed to be performed from 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays. On days which the defendants claimed to have worked until 8 p.m., the warehouse was closed, locked, and alarmed well before 8 p.m., and often by 6 p.m. or before. Despite this, it is alleged that the defendants routinely submitted false and fraudulent overtime slips claiming to have worked from 4 to 8 p.m. Supervisors, who also left early from this shift, allegedly submitted their own false and fraudulent slips and also knowingly endorsed the fraudulent overtime slips of their subordinates.
Another shift, called “kiosk” overtime, was available to two ECU officers one Saturday a month from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This shift involved collecting materials, such as unused prescription drugs, from kiosks in each police district in the city and then transporting the materials to an incinerator in Saugus. It is alleged that defendants who performed this overtime shift routinely submitted overtime slips claiming to have worked eight and a half hours when in fact the defendants frequently completed the work and left the shift early, often before 10 a.m.
Between May 2016 and February 2019 the defendants allegedly collectively embezzled more than $200,000 in overtime pay. According to court documents, Torigian received over $43,000 for overtime hours he did not work; Twitchell, O’Brien and Doherty each received over $25,000 for overtime hours they did not work; Carnes and Lopez each received over $20,000 for overtime hours they did not work; and Murphy, Nelson and Conway each received over $15,000 for overtime hours they did not work.
From 2016 through 2018, BPD received annual benefits from the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Justice in excess of $10,000, which were funded pursuant to numerous federal grants.
In a statement, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he was “outraged” and “disgusted” by the allegations.
“These allegations are an affront to the thousands of police officers who do their jobs every day with honesty, integrity, and bravery,” Walsh said. “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.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins added, “I am deeply dismayed by the allegations outlined in federal court this afternoon. If these allegations are true, these men and women have dishonored the badge. They stole taxpayer dollars, multiple times over a period of years. This behavior certainly calls into question their credibility.”
If convicted, the officers face up to 15 years behind bars and fines of up to $200,000.
All of the officers have been released on personal recognizance.
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