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Amid pay scandal, highway officials vow closer scrutiny of bills from State Police

Amid an expanding State Police fraud scandal, state highway officials said Monday that they will start auditing the invoices for troopers’ patrols of the Massachusetts Turnpike to ensure the charges are accurate.

The Department of Transportation plans to audit the law enforcement agency at least twice a year.

“We are asking for the best possible detail for every request for reimbursement they submit to us,” said James Logan, the department’s director of audit operations.

Logan and Jonathan Gulliver, the state’s highway administrator, vowed there will be stricter oversight of State Police costs during a presentation to the Department of Transportation’s board.

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Last year, MassDOT spent more than $35 million on State Police-related costs, according to the department’s records.

Part of MassDOT’s plan includes hiring independent financial experts to review the agency’s new oversight process and suggest improvements, Gulliver said. The department has sought bids and expects to select a contractor in four to six weeks. The state anticipates spending no more than $150,000 on the project, he said.

Three state troopers were arrested recently for allegedly pocketing thousands of dollars of overtime pay for hours they didn’t work, part of a broadening federal probe into allegations of rampant fraud at the state’s largest law enforcement agency. Another trooper has pleaded guilty.

Dozens of current and former members of Troop E — the unit that long patrolled the turnpike — have been alleged in recent months to be linked to the pay scandal, resulting in a wide-scale audit, internal State Police investigations, a probe by the attorney general’s office, and the disbanding of the unit.

The Department of Transportation had paid Troop E and continues to pay for State Police services on the turnpike under a reorganization that divided patrols among three other barracks.

MassDOT board members said they expect a detailed accounting of future police expenditures.

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“This type of auditing is tedious and difficult but it’s also necessary,” said Betsy Taylor, a former finance director at the Massachusetts Port Authority. “Remind the State Police that the board is very interested.”


Kay Lazar can be reached at kay.lazar@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.