Nine BPD officers charged with overtime fraud

A group of nine former and current Boston Police Officers on Wednesday morning were arrested by FBI agents and charged for allegedly committing over $200,000 in overtime fraud at the Boston Police Department’s evidence warehouse.

The Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that Lieutenant Timothy Torigian, 54, of Walpole; Sergeant Gerard O’Brien (retired), 62, of Braintree; Sergeant Robert Twitchell (retired), 58, of Norton; Officer Henry Doherty (retired), 61, of Dorchester; Officer Diana Lopez (retired), 58, of Milton; Officer James Carnes (retired), 57, of Canton; Officer Michael Murphy, 60, of Hyde Park; Officer Ronald Nelson (retired), 60, of Jamaica Plain; and Officer Kendra Conway, 49, of Boston, were each charged in an indictment unsealed today with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds.

The defendants will make initial appearances via videoconference in federal court in Boston later today.

“As a result of an investigation, information was uncovered by the Boston Police Department’s Anti-Corruption Unit regarding alleged payroll/overtime abuse by officers assigned to the Evidence Management Unit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorney’s Office became involved with the criminal investigation into the allegations. As a result of the investigation, former and current Boston Police Officers were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury. Pursuant to applicable law, the officers indicted that currently work for the department have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case.” Police Commissioner William Gross said in a statement.

“The allegations and behavior alleged in today’s indictments is very troubling and in no way reflect the attitudes of the hard-working employees of the Boston Police Department. I hold my officers to the highest standards and expect them to obey all the laws that they have taken an oath to uphold. News of these indictments sends a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated or ignored and can damage the trust my officers have worked so hard to build with the communities we serve.”  

“I am a strong supporter of the police, especially in these difficult times. But all must be treated equally under the law, regardless of wealth, power or station. These officers are charged with stealing taxpayer money, year after year, through fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.

“Beyond the theft of funds, this kind of official misconduct also erodes trust in public institutions, at a time when that trust is most needed. I want to thank Commissioner Willie Gross for his cooperation in this case, and the BPD’s Anti-Corruption Unit for its assistance.”

“As law enforcement officers, we have a tremendous responsibility to the public we serve, and therefore must be held to the highest standards of trust and integrity. These police officers are accused of breaking that trust by conspiring to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars to increase their paychecks,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.

“They are the anomaly from the honest and hard-working men and women of the BPD. We’d like to thank Commissioner Gross and his department for their invaluable assistance in putting an end to this systemic practice and helping us root out these individuals who we believe decided to take advantage of their positions for their own personal gain.”

According to the indictment, the defendants were assigned to Boston Police Department’s (BPD) Evidence Control Unit (ECU), where they were responsible for, among other things, storing, cataloging and retrieving evidence at the warehouse. ECU officers were eligible to earn overtime pay of 1.5 times their regular hourly pay rate for overtime assignments. It is alleged that beginning in at least May 2016, the defendants routinely departed overtime shifts two or more hours early but submitted false and fraudulent overtime slips claiming to have worked the entirety of each shift. 

The charge of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Grady of Lelling’s Public Corruption & Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting the case.