2 more guilty pleas in State Police OT scandal
A suspended Massachusetts state trooper who was the first implicated in an overtime scandal and another one who retired from the department have both agreed to plead guilty in connection with an ongoing investigation that has ensnared dozens of current and former troopers, according to an agreement filed Friday in US District Court in Boston.
Eric Chin, 46, of Hanover, the suspended trooper, and Paul Cesan, 50, of Southwick, who retired, worked for the now-disbanded Troop E, which patrolled the Turnpike and is at the center of the overtime probe.
Chin has agreed to plead guilty to collecting $7,125 for overtime he did not work, and Cesan has agreed to plead guilty to collecting $29,287 for hours he did not fulfill.
In 2016, Chin and Cesan signed up to work special overtime shifts that were designed to catch speeding motorists and reduce accidents and injuries along the Turnpike, according to court documents.
But during that time, Chin and Cesan were paid for overtime shifts they did not work at all or from which they left early, prosecutors say. Both men allegedly concealed their scheme by submitting fraudulent tickets designed to create the appearance they had worked the shifts and then falsely claimed in police paperwork and payroll forms that they had worked the entire shifts, according to the documents.
Chin earned roughly $302,400 in 2016, including about $131,653 in overtime pay, and a portion of that included the problematic shifts, according to the documents. Cesan earned $163,533, which included approximately $50,866 in overtime.
Chin was suspended without pay in April 2017 but was never formally disciplined by the department. It wasn’t until nine months later, in January of this year, that department officials announced they had “launched an investigation into payroll discrepancies uncovered during an ongoing internal audit.”
Since then, both state and federal authorities have announced investigations, and five troopers, including Chin and Cesan, have pleaded guilty.
With Friday’s plea agreement, Chin is “acknowledging and accepting his responsibility, but is devastated by the loss of his career that, during the time involved, was a systemic problem within the State Police,” said Douglas Louison, Chin’s attorney.
As the overtime scandal mushroomed, Governor Charlie Baker and State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin announced a series of reforms, including the disbanding of Troop E and installing GPS vehicle tracking in police cruisers.
In Chin’s case, US Attorney Andrew Lelling has agreed to recommend a sentence of not less than six months and no more than 12 months, in prison, according to court documents. Chin will also be required to pay restitution of at least $7,125.
Lelling will recommend a sentence of between 10 and 16 months in prison for Cesan.
A court date has not been scheduled for a hearing in either of the cases.
A colleague of Cesan and Chin also faced charges Friday in connection with the overtime scandal. Retired State Police lieutenant David Wilson, 57, of Charlton pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly stealing at least $19,000 in bogus overtime payments. Wilson entered his plea in Suffolk Superior Court and was released on personal recognizance.
Wilson is charged with larceny over $250 by single scheme, procurement fraud, and violating standards of conduct for public employees, according to Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.
Wilson, who retired in March, was a shift commander in Troop E’s Boston duty office in 2016. That year, he earned more than $259,000, which included more than $103,000 in overtime pay. Also that year, Healey’s office said, Wilson allegedly submitted fake claims for at least 180 hours of overtime pay, meaning he collected at least $19,000 for hours he did not work.
Wilson, according to authorities, allegedly would regularly schedule his overtime shifts before his regular shifts and submit claims for both shifts, meaning he was double paid for a number of overlapping hours.
Wilson also faces a federal embezzlement charge in a separate case brought by federal prosecutors. He’s pleaded not guilty in that matter as well.