A former state trooper from Hopkinton has become the latest to admit to wrongdoing in connection with the ongoing overtime abuse scandal at the Massachusetts State Police, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Heath McAuliffe, 40, agreed to plead guilty to one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office for Massachusetts.
As part of a plea agreement, McAuliffe acknowledged earning more than $7,800 for overtime hours he did not work, arrived late for, or left early from, during a period from August 2015 to August 2016.
A date for a plea hearing has yet to be scheduled.
McAuliffe would be the eighth trooper to plea guilty as part of the ongoing federal investigation. State authorities are also probing bogus overtime at the agency.
McAuliffe was taken into custody at his home in Hopkinton in December. State Police suspended him without pay in March 2018. McAuliffe was sworn in as a trooper in 2000 and resigned last month, said State Police spokesman David Procopio in a Wednesday e-mail.
“The Department is committed to upholding the highest standards of conduct, and as such, in support of this and other criminal investigations of former Troop E members, we provided to prosecutors all the information we uncovered through our intensive audits of overtime abuse,” Procopio said.
Reached for comment on Wednesday’s announcement, McAuliffe’s attorney, James L. Sultan, said “I think the document speaks for itself.”
Authorities said McAuliffe concealed his payroll fraud by submitting fake citations that were intended to make it look like he had worked overtime hours that he had not. Prosecutors also said that he falsely claimed in State Police paperwork that he had worked the entirety of his OT shifts.
The shifts in question involved a program that tried to reduce crashes on the Massachusetts Turnpike through more State Police patrols that targeted speeders on that highway.
McAuliffe was assigned to Troop E, a unit that was responsible for patrolling the Pike until it was disbanded last year after the overtime scandal became public.
Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of between six months to a year behind bars for McAuliffe. Convictions of theft of government funds can carry a sentence of no more than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine, according to the attorney’s office.
Authorities said McAuliffe earned more than $164,000 in 2016, which included more than $60,000 in overtime pay. The previous year, he earned more than $180,000, which included more than $83,000 in overtime pay, prosecutors said.
In 2015 and 2016, State Police received more than $10,000 in annual benefits from the US Department of Transportation, hence the federal embezzlement charge.