A retired Massachusetts State Police trooper from Southwick pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to taking home more than $29,000 in overtime pay for hours that he did not work, prosecutors said.
Paul Cesan’s guilty plea to one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds is the latest development in the ongoing State Police bogus overtime scandal that has rocked the agency in recent months and triggered state and federal probes.
Nine current and former troopers face charges in ongoing investigations into overtime fraud. Five of the nine have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plea guilty; the others have pleaded not guilty.
Cesan, who agreed to plead guilty in October, is expected to be sentenced in March, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence between 10 months and 16 months behind bars, per a plea agreement. The embezzlement charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine, according to federal prosecutors.
Before he retired, Cesan, 50, was assigned to Troop E, the unit that had previously patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike until it was disbanded amid the overtime scandal this spring.
In 2016, he earned more than $163,000, according to authorities. That figure included more than $50,000 in overtime pay.
That year, Cesan was paid for overtime shifts he did not work or from which he left early, according to the US attorney’s office. He concealed that fraud, prosecutors said, through filing fake citations that were intended to “create the appearance that he had worked overtime hours that he had not.” Cesan, according to the US attorney’s office, “falsely claimed in MSP paperwork and payroll that he had worked the entirety of his overtime shifts.”
The bogus overtime was connected to two programs that were intended to reduce crashes on the Mass. Turnpike through additional State Police patrols.
Troopers targeted vehicles that were speeding in the two programs, according to the US attorney’s office.
The State Police have been buffeted by a series of scandals that surfaced during the past year.
Facing a federal fraud investigation, Dana Pullman, the former head of the powerful State Police union, retired as a trooper earlier this month.
The Globe reported last month that amid numerous ongoing probes into overtime and payroll fraud, the agency tried several times in recent months to destroy more than a hundred boxes of payroll, attendance, and personnel documents that span decades, according to records.