Nine Boston Police Officers arrested for allegedly conspiring to steal over $200k in overtime

Crime

BOSTON (WWLP) – Nine Boston Police Officers assigned to the Evidence Control Unit have been arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly conspiring to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime fraud at the Boston Police Department’s evidence warehouse.

According to FBI Boston, special agents with FBI Boston and the Justice Office of the Inspector General arrested the police officers and took them into custody at their homes. Six of them were retired.

They’ve been indicted for allegedly conspiring to steal over $200,000 in overtime.

According to the Office of United States Attorney Andrew Lelling, the following officers were each charged in an indictment unsealed Wednesday with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds.

  • 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
  • Officer Kendra Conway, 49, of Boston

The defendants will make initial appearances via video conference in federal court in Boston later in the day Wednesday.

“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,” United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said. “These officers are charged with stealing taxpayer money, year after year, through fraud. 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.”

According to the indictment, the defendants were assigned to Boston Police Department’s Evidence Control Unit where they were responsible for 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.

According to Lelling, 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. One overtime shift, called “purge” overtime, was focused on reducing the inventory of the evidence warehouse.

The shift was supposed to be performed from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays. On days which the defendants claimed to have worked until 8:00 p.m., the warehouse was closed, locked, and alarmed well before 8:00 p.m., and often by 6:00 p.m. or before. Despite this, it is alleged that the defendants routinely submitted false and fraudulent overtime slips claiming to have worked from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Supervisors, who also left early from this shift, allegedly submitted their own false and fraudulent slips and also knowingly endorsed the fraudulent overtime slips of their subordinates, according to Lelling. 

Another shift called “kiosk” overtime was available to two ECU officers one Saturday a month from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This shift involved collecting materials, such as unused prescription drugs from kiosks in each police district in the city and then transporting the materials to an incinerator in Saugus. It is alleged that defendants who performed this overtime shift routinely submitted overtime slips claiming to have worked eight and a half hours when in fact the defendants frequently completed the work and left the shift early often before 10:00 a.m.

Between May 2016 and February 2019 the defendants allegedly collectively embezzled over $200,000 in overtime pay. According to court documents, Torigian received over $43,000 for overtime hours he did not work; Twitchell, O’Brien, and Doherty each received over $25,000 for overtime hours they did not work; Carnes and Lopez each received over $20,000 for overtime hours they did not work; and Murphy, Nelson, and Conway each received over $15,000 for overtime hours they did not work. 

From 2016 through 2018, BPD received annual benefits from the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Justice in excess of $10,000, which were funded pursuant to numerous federal grants. 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.

Special Agent in Charge, Joseph R. Bonavolonta’s, released a statement to Twitter regarding the arrests:

“As law enforcement officers we have a tremendous responsibility to 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. 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.”

-Special Agent in Charge, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, FBI Boston division

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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