It's been called a betrayal of the badge. After working for the Vermont State Police for 22 years, Sgt. James Deeghan resigned after being accused of lying on his time sheets. His overtime upped his salary by $56,000 a year.
"What I find so disturbing is this is stealing from taxpayers if it's true," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Deeghan's incorrect time sheet was reported by another state trooper, leading the governor to call for an audit of State Police.
"Deeghan's salary was unusually high. He reported roughly $123,000 in earnings last year," Shumlin said.
But Shumlin says a lot of overtime and a high salary is not necessarily a red flag. In fact, many state workers more than doubled their salaries with overtime pay. For example, a nursing assistant at the veterans' home has a base salary of $29,000, but in 2010 she worked 2,040 hours of overtime and ended up nearly tripling her salary to $76,000. A corrections officer had a base salary of $54,000; he worked 1,726 hours of overtime and more than doubled his salary to $125,000 a year. An emergency dispatcher with State Police originally making $59,000 a year worked 1,130 hours of overtime and ended up making $106,000 a year. These are just three examples of hundreds within state government.
"We are under the impression that it's mostly legitimate and what we have here is a situation where one individual took advantage of the taxpayers of the state," Vt. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said.
In 2010, Vt. Auditor Tom Salmon noticed a pattern of abuse within Vermont State Police employees increasing their overtime hours before retirement to boost their pensions. This is known as spiking. Salmon's report stated "spiking of pre-retirement wages has been a concern for many, including the state's recent Retirement commission." Then-Public Safety commissioner Tom Tremblay responded, "this is an example where we can do much better and we will." And they did. A law passed last year took effect 10 days ago. It prevents troopers from spiking their salaries by more than 20 percent of their average pay during their time of service. But for those who've already spiked their salary and retired-- nothing can be done.
"There are constitutional issues with taking something that already belongs to them, so we did not go backward nor did we think we had the right under the constitution," Spaulding said.
Spaulding says they don't anticipate these high instances of overtime are fraudulent, but it could indicate the state's need to hire more workers-- something he says corrections is starting to do to reduce the number of overtime hours. Spaulding says he thinks Deeghan was the only trooper doctoring his time card. An independent audit will try to determine if that is in fact the case.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 04:07:42 GMT
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Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 00:08:37 GMT
Flood warnings are in effect around our region as heavy rains begin to move through. There is already localized flooding at some of the typical problem spots, like the wrong-way bridge on Route 15 inMore >>
Parts of our region are already flooding and others are bracing as heavy rains move through. Not only is rain falling fast, but warm temperatures Monday melted snow, adding to high waters.More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:06:00 GMT
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Vermont emergency workers have rescued a man stranded in the middle of a treacherous section of river in downtown Springfield. More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-04-15 21:02:17 GMT
The sex crimes trial of a former prison guard has been delayed. Jury draw was scheduled to begin Monday for Richard Gallow. He is charged with sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct on a femaleMore >>
The sex crimes trial of a former prison guard has been delayed.More >>
Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:27 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:27:17 GMT
Arson at the Albany Fire Department was an inside job. On Tuesday former firefighter Elmer Joerg pleaded no contest to setting the blaze. Investigators say the former volunteer was caught on camera settingMore >>
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Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:26 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:26:03 GMT
There was a plea deal for a man who triggered a 5 hour standoff in Newport last fall. Derek Niles pleaded no contest to reckless endangerment Tuesday. He got a deferred sentence and will be on probationMore >>
There was a plea deal for a man who triggered a 5 hour standoff in Newport last fall. More >>