The arrests last week of three recently retired or suspended state troopers, accused of purloining thousands of dollars in 2016 for shifts they didn’t work, is just the most recent development in months of scandals for the law enforcement agency.
The rumblings over the theft of overtime pay by members of the Massachusetts State Police began more than a year ago, and, in that time, other claims of misconduct and issues in the department’s payroll and financial accounting have emerged.
Here’s a timeline of when the prominent controversies and investigations the embattled department is facing surfaced in the public view.
Highest paid trooper in 2016 placed on desk duty amid investigation into overtime pay
WCVB reported that the highest paid trooper was placed on desk duty while the department investigated whether he worked all the hours he claimed in 2016. It was the second year that Trooper Eric Chin topped the state police payroll, earning $131,654 in overtime and $66,094 in other pay on top of his $104,653 base salary. Chin was later suspended without pay.
WCVB finds several troopers used ‘questionable methods’ to collect extra pay for work not performed
The station found during the course of a six-month investigation that several officers in the department’s Troop E, the unit assigned to patrolling the Massachusetts Turnpike, collected “extra pay for work not done.” Chin’s lawyer told the station that manipulating tickets to boost overtime pay was a common practice by many troopers and supervisors within Troop E.
Two troopers file federal lawsuits alleging they were ordered by top commanders to alter a report on the arrest of a judge’s daughter
Troopers Ryan Sceviour and Ali Rei filed federal lawsuits within days of each other alleging that top commanders in the department pressured them to alter the report on the arrest of Alli Bibaud, the daughter of a Worcester County judge, to remove embarrassing information.
Sceviour and Rei alleged they were forced to falsify the report by removing references to comments made by Bibaud about sex and her father’s position during her arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs after she crashed her car on I-190. Rei alleged she was told to shred and redact reports containing crude statements by Bibaud, but she refused.
Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and the state Ethics Commission launched investigations into the altered report within the month. State police Col. Richard McKeon abruptly announced his retirement amid the allegations that he ordered Sceviour to alter the report.
Bibaud ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges against her and was sentenced to a total of 14 months probation, had her license suspended for a year, and ordered to complete a residential treatment program.
Kerry A. Gilpin is selected by Baker to take over leadership of the state police
On her first day, the new commander launched an investigation into the altered arrest report scandal.
Massachusetts State Police announce launch of investigation into whether officers were paid for shifts they didn’t work
The department released few details but said that an ongoing internal audit revealed “payroll discrepancies” for officers assigned to patrol shifts designed to reduce accidents, according to The Boston Globe.
Trooper placed on paid leave after internal investigation into her hiring is launched
State police placed Trooper Leigha Genduso on leave and launched an internal affairs investigation after reports surfaced that the 36-year-old had been hired by the department as a dispatcher just a year after she had testified as a co-conspirator in a federal drug case, according to the Globe.
After being initially hired as a dispatcher, she became a trooper in 2014. She told the Globe that no one asked about her federal testimony during the hiring process.
According to the newspaper, she had been living with Daniel Risteen, then a state police major, for three years at the time of her application to the department in 2012. Risteen was one of the top officials accused of taking part in ordering the scrubbing of information from Bibaud’s arrest report in the fall. He retired abruptly on the same day that Genduso was placed on leave.
State police announce that 20 troopers are under investigation as a result of the internal audit of Troop E overtime patrols
The department said the audit “revealed apparent discrepancies between overtime earnings paid to members and actual patrols worked” by 19 members of Troop E holding the ranks of trooper, sergeant, and lieutenant. Another trooper was already suspended for another issue and a retired member of the unit was also being investigated, the department said.
In the following months, additional troopers in the unit would be accused of falsifying overtime records.
A Globe investigation shows payroll records for Troop F were hidden from public view
The Globe reported that payroll records for Troop F, the 140-trooper division that patrols parts of the Seaport and Logan International Airport, had not been filed with the state comptroller for several years. Fourteen of the troopers in the unit earned more in overtime than their base pay, with 54 earning more than $200,000 last year.
The Globe later reported that troopers in the unit received a $40 per diem for driving their own cars to work, with some cashing in on the option and earning up to $13,000 a year in per diems alone.
The Globe reveals that the department’s Troop E was under investigation by the inspector general for irregularities in awarding towing contracts
The inspector general’s report found that troopers had the power to play favorites in how the contracts were awarded, pushing thousands of drivers away from some companies and steering motorists toward a different contractor, according to the Globe. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation told the newspaper that the agency had adopted “significant changes and improvements” for procuring towing contracts following the report.
Director of payroll for state police charged with stealing from department
Denise Ezekiel was charged with larceny, with authorities alleging she misappropriated more than $23,000 in public money over the last two years related to travel and reimbursement expenses.
In June, Ezekiel pleaded guilty and plans to pay back the stolen money, according to MassLive. The 50-year-old, currently listed as being on unpaid leave with the department, has filed a retirement application, but state police say they are “moving forward with plans to terminate her employment.”
Gilpin and Baker announce the elimination of Troop E
The head of the scandal-plagued department and governor said, in addition to the dissolution of the unit tasked with patrolling the Mass. Pike, more than 1,000 state police cruisers would be tracked by GPS systems and dozens of troopers were being shifted to Troop F in an effort to cut back on overtime in that unit, according to the Globe.
Reports reveal a federal grand jury is investigating the alleged overtime theft
The Globe reported that prosecutors were investigating whether members of the unit responsible for patrolling the Mass. Pike committed fraud by collecting overtime pay for shifts they did not work and whether supervisors were aware of the practice.
Lawsuit alleges Worcester district attorney ‘directed’ effort to discredit trooper in altered arrest report scandal
In his lawsuit, Sceviour alleged Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. “initiated and directed” a conspiracy to defame him in connection to the arrest report of Bibaud in October 2017. The trooper, who says he was forced to alter the report to remove embarrassing information, is seeking unspecified financial damages, expungement of his reprimand, and a public apology from those he’s accusing of mistreatment, according to the Globe.
Federal authorities arrest three state troopers, two retired and one suspended, in overtime theft probe
Former lieutenant David W. Wilson, 57, of Charlton, former trooper Paul E. Cesan, 50, of Southwick, and Trooper Gary S. Herman, 45, of Chester were arrested June 27, accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars in 2016 through the submission of fake traffic citations, putting in for shifts they didn’t work, and deliberately taking steps to hide the fraud.
U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said during a press conference that the embezzlement charges against the three men, who were released on bail, were just the start of the federal investigation.
“We plan on looking back as far as we can, a number of years,” Lelling said. “We’ll see where it goes.”
State investigations into the alleged overtime thefts are also ongoing.
“As part of the ongoing implementation of our wide ranging reforms, we continue to audit overtime payments received by department members, and to provide the results of those audits to prosecutors for their review for potential criminality,” Gilpin said in a statement following the arrests. “We fully support and will continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigations being conducted by the US Attorney and the Attorney General.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated the state Ethics Commission announced an investigation into the altered arrest report in November 2017. The commission did not announce the commencement of the probe, but the head of the state police union told the Globe an investigation had been launched by the commission.