James Deeghan walked into the courtroom with his head held high at a low point for the Vermont State Police. After 22 years on the job, the former sergeant is charged with felony fraud. On Tuesday, Deeghan forfeited his badge, but Friday he denied allegations he padded is timecard to collect overtime he didn't earn.
Prosecutors say falsifying his time sheet was not even the most egregious allegation. According to court papers, Deeghan also fabricated police calls. In June alone, prosecutors say he was paid for responding to two accidents and a security alarm call that never happened.
"People trusted him. He betrayed that trust. This is truly a textbook example of a crime of opportunity," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said.
Officials say no one at the Williston barracks was supervising Deeghan's actions and he was using that power to get away with the alleged fraud. When confronted by his superiors, prosecutors say he admitted doctoring his overtime, but said he planned to make it up off the books. His boss says it's a disturbing black mark on Vermont's green and gold.
"This is about the public trust. This is about things we come to work to protect. So no one is walking with their head held real high right now," Vt. State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance said.
And it gets worse. The state police have a contract with the town of Jericho to provide 20 hours of police patrol per week. The overtime contract was supervised by Deeghan. Now town officials are wondering if they got ripped off.
"His name was routinely on the bills," Jericho town administrator Todd Odit said.
Odit says he knew Jericho was in trouble when the colonel showed up at his door earlier this week.
"He seemed disheartened," Odit said.
Turns out an investigation into Deeghan's last month of pay revealed that on two occasions Deeghan allegedly billed Jericho for calls other troopers responded to and the town double-paid for the service.
"You don't want to see potentially one bad apple spoil the bunch," Odit said.
He says the colonel's visit came with a promise to repay. Odit says that's a step in the right direction.
"That right there has helped to start rebuild that trust," Odit said.
"We're moving forward, we're not moving on; because we move on, we never look back. We have to keep an eye on what happened to ensure it never happens again," L'Esperance said.
But the colonel knows better than anyone it will be a long road back for Vermont state police.
State police maintain that Deeghan's actions are an isolated incident. But officials say more supervision will occur within all the barracks. Deeghan's pension is now under review and the colonel says he will not be paid for anything he did not earn.
If convicted, Deeghan faces up to 10 years behind bars.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:42 AM EDT2013-05-21 12:42:38 GMT
New Hampshire celebrates a century of picking presidents. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the law that created the Granite State's famous First-in-the-Nation presidential primary. As a result ofMore >>
New Hampshire celebrates a century of picking presidents.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:20 AM EDT2013-05-21 12:20:31 GMT
A Middlebury man has pleaded not guilty to federal arson charges stemming from a fire at a Pittsford car dealership back in July 2011. Police said they found 29-year-old Steven Browne behind the wheelMore >>
A Middlebury man has pleaded not guilty to federal arson charges stemming from a fire at a Pittsford car dealership back in July 2011.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:19 AM EDT2013-05-21 12:19:19 GMT
A historic building in North Bennington will have new owners and a new purpose. Merchant's Bank donated the building to the Fund for North Bennington and the Preservation Trust of Vermont. That buildingMore >>
A historic building in North Bennington will have new owners and a new purpose.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 7:52 AM EDT2013-05-21 11:52:10 GMT
Work on a chain reaction road project is in full swing starting in Northfield. Crews are working on the final coat of pavement on Route 12 and 12A, and hope to wrap up shortly. The next phase in RandolphMore >>
Work on a chain reaction road project is in full swing starting in Northfield.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 7:43 AM EDT2013-05-21 11:43:55 GMT
New Hampshire residents may want to stock up on bug spray this season. Some mosquito experts are saying the Granite State is in for a challenging season. They say a lack of a hard freeze helped a mosquitoMore >>
New Hampshire residents may want to stock up on bug spray this season.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 7:42 AM EDT2013-05-21 11:42:11 GMT
The Vermont couple charged with killing a Saint Johnsbury teacher will be in court Tuesday and are planning on asking for new lawyers. Prosecutors say Allen and Patricia Prue kidnapped and killed 33-year-oldMore >>
The Vermont couple charged with killing a Saint Johnsbury teacher will be in court Tuesday and are planning on asking for new lawyers.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:32 AM EDT2013-05-21 04:32:23 GMT
It is a case that terrified the Northeast Kingdom, 78-year-old Pat O'Hagan, murdered more than two years ago. But now - sources tell Channel 3 there are 3 suspects and they are already in jail. O'HaganMore >>
It is a case that terrified the Northeast Kingdom, 78-year-old Pat O'Hagan, murdered more than two years ago. But now - sources tell Channel 3 there are 3 suspects and they are already in jail.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:31 AM EDT2013-05-21 04:31:47 GMT
When Burlington High School Spanish teacher Giovanna Yaranga was charged with having sex with one of her students many Burlington High School parents thought the worst, "As a mom it scared me, I send myMore >>
When Burlington High School Spanish teacher Giovanna Yaranga was charged with having sex with one of her students many Burlington High School parents thought the worst.More >>