Vermont State Police sergeant committed time sheet fraud, Shumlin says
by Taylor Dobbs vtdigger.org A Vermont State Police officer resigned today after allegedly padding his timesheets, claiming to be on duty when he was not. The scandal, announced today at a press conference by Gov. Peter Shumlin, may have cost taxpayers into the tens of thousands of dollars, administration officials said.
Keith Flynn, commissioner of public safety, and Governor Peter Shumlin said a State Police Seargeant had defrauded taxpayers by padding his time sheets. VTD Photo/Taylor Dobbs
James Deeghan, 49, of Colchester was based out of the Williston State Police barracks for much of his 22-year career. In the last fiscal year, which ended at the end of June, Deeghan made $136,000, about $56,000 of which was overtime billed on top of an $80,000 base. The average trooper, Spaulding said, makes roughly $30,000 a year in overtime.
“That is high pay for a trooper,” Shumlin said.
Shumlin announced a “two-track investigation is taking place immediately.” The first is a criminal probe into Deeghan’s specific case, while another investigation will be conducted by an outside auditor the state is hiring to look for patterns in state police finances that may show other potential abuses.
Once a criminal investigation is complete, the State Police will hand off their evidence to Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan, who will decide how to move forward on the case. In an interview this afternoon, Donovan said he still doesn’t know much about the case.
“I’ve talked with Commissioner Flynn, and I’m meeting with State Police Investigators tomorrow,” Donovan said.
Deeghan’s alleged wrongdoing was discovered by a colleague. Shumlin said an officer was filling out his timesheet and didn’t remember the code to enter for overtime pay then looked to Deeghan’s sheet for the code. The officer noticed Deeghan had billed for hours he was not working for and reported the suspicious billing to superiors. After working its way up the chain of command, the news got to Keith Flynn, commissioner of public safety, yesterday and Deeghan was placed on immediate leave. He submitted his resignation this morning around 10 a.m., Flynn said.
As the wheels begin turning in an investigation of Deeghan’s activities, State Police Colonel Thomas L’Esperance made his disappointment clear.
“He betrayed his badge, his core values,” L’Esperance said.
The press conference, which took place today at 4 p.m., was announced only two hours prior and took place on a day when Shumlin had no other public appearances scheduled. Shumlin stated multiple times that while officials did not yet have many answers – the total sum of money fraudulently billed is yet to be determined – the press conference was held in an effort to achieve total openness and transparency.
“We do want you to know that we will keep you abreast as we go forward to make sure that you have the information you need as we discover it,” Shumlin said.