The overtime fraud trial of four Boston police officers kicked off Tuesday in federal court with attorneys for the current and former cops countering prosecutors' theft claims by arguing it was a "time-honored, accepted practice" to file for overtime in four-hour chunks regardless of how long they worked (article available here).
Jurors heard opening arguments in the case alleging former Lt. Timothy Torigian, former Sgt. Robert Twitchell, former Officer Henry Doherty, and suspended Officer Kendra Conway stole tens of thousands of dollars by claiming overtime pay for hours they never worked.
"This case is about four Boston police officers who stole," Assistant U.S. Attorney told jurors. "They didn't rob a bank. They didn't crack a safe. They stole overtime pay for putting in for hours they didn't work."
Torigian's attorney told the panel that the lieutenant doesn't dispute filling out his own overtime slips in four-hour chunks and signing off on similar slips from others in the Evidence Control Unit.
"In practice, it was a time-honored tradition that officers could, would, and did submit overtime in 4-hour blocks at the Evidence Control Unit, in particular, and throughout the Boston Police Department in other units," he said.
Twitchell's attorney categorized the four-hour overtime claims as an "unwritten rule" of the evidence warehouse. No one ever told his client he had to stay until the very end of the shift.
Prosecutors unveiled the case against nine current and former Boston cops detailed to the department's Evidence Control Unit in September 2020, filing federal conspiracy and theft charges against the officers for collectively embezzling more than $200,000 in no-work overtime pay.
Prosecutors said they planned to call nine former members of the evidence control unit, many pursuant to cooperation deals, who will testify that they knew the exaggerated overtime slips were wrong.
Five other officers charged in separate cases between March 2021 and October 2021 all pleaded guilty.