FRAMINGHAM (CBS) - Duty status hearings will be scheduled for 19 state troopers, sergeants, and lieutenants involved in an overtime scandal involving 21 current and former members of the Massachusetts State Police, the agency's head, Col. Kerry A. Gilpin, confirmed Tuesday.
The action stems from the results on an internal audit of overtime paid to troopers on the Mass Pike for shifts they didn't work. The results of the audit, which began last year, have been forwarded to Attorney General Maura Healey's office for investigation, Gilpin told reporters during a press conference Tuesday morning.
"We will seek to determine whether policies, rules of the state police were violated and if criminal charges are warranted," Gilpin said.
Gilpin, who called the matter "very disheartening," said the department began a months-long internal audit involving members of Troop E, who oversee the Massachusetts Turnpike and the tunnel systems.
That audit, which examined payments for payments of overtime paid to personnel for traffic patrols on the Mass Pike, "uncovered apparent discrepancies for overtime paid and actual time worked," Gilpin said.
Two of the 21 members of Troop E would have faced duty status hearings, but one of them retired last year before the audit's completion, and the other is currently suspended without pay related to a separate matter that is being investigated.
Gilpin did not release a dollar amount of fraudulent overtime paid to the troopers, but said the troopers under scrutiny logged anywhere from one to 100 shifts that were never worked.
The internal audit has since been expanded to include a full departmental review of overtime worked by all members of the Massachusetts State Police, Gilpin said.
"That's why we've expanded it to go Commonwealth-wide, and we're looking at all of the overtime patrols to make sure that this does not happen again," she said.
The 19 troopers, sergeants and lieutenants scheduled for hearings face a potential change in their duty status, up to and including suspension without pay, while investigation into the matter continues.
Gilpin said the goal is to have the public's trust in the agency, which has core values of integrity, honesty and accountability, she said.
"For us to fulfill our agency as a police agency, we must have the public's trust," Gilpin said.
Daniel Bennett, secretary of the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, called the internal audit by the state police "meticulous" and the results "will make the state police a better organization."
In a statement, Lizzy Guyton, communications director for Gov. Charlie Baker, said the governor "commends Colonel Gilpin for conducting a thorough investigation."
Baker "expects those who violated the public's trust to face serious penalties. The Baker-Polito Administration looks forward to the Attorney General's review of the findings," Guyton said.
In a statement Tuesday, Dana Pullman, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said the union "does not condone any of the alleged actions of SPAM union members or commissioned officers that may have violated the public's trust."
"We will be providing our members with the best legal representation to appropriately address any allegations brought against SPAM union members," Pullman said. "We hope that working with the Massachusetts Department of State Police Administration will ensure that everyone involved is held accountable."
Gilpin was sworn in as Massachusetts State Police colonel in November, after another scandal rocked the Massachusetts State Police.
Gilpin's appointment came after the retirements of Colonel Richard McKeon and Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes amid claims that a trooper was told to change a report so the daughter of Dudley District Judge Timothy Bibaud could avoid embarrassment.
Alli Bibaud, the judge's daughter, was arrested on drug charges. McKeon admitted to ordering changes be made to the report.
Pullman, of the state police union, said "the Department has been in turmoil over the last several months."
"We believe the customs and culture that was allowed to flourish under the previous State Police leadership has compromised the public's perception and calls into question the integrity of the hard-working men and women of the Massachusetts State Police," Pullman said. "Colonel Gilpin has been given the unenviable task of dealing with a myriad of untenable issues. (The union) will continue to seek resolution of these issues and work with her to earn back the public's respect and trust."
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