'Just the Beginning': Overtime Abuse Investigation Leads to 3 Massachusetts Troopers in Handcuffs
By Dan Glaun
The three Massachusetts State Police troopers charged with abusing overtime shifts allegedly stole between $12,000 and $30,000 each, according to affidavits filed in federal court.
Troopers Gary Herman, 45, of Chester; Paul Cesan, 50, of Southwick; and Lt. David Wilson, 57, of Charlton are facing federal counts of embezzlement for allegedly cutting hours or outright skipping overtime traffic enforcement shifts on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The charges are the first criminal action taken relating to the fraud, which has expanded from an internal state police audit to a scandal encompassing an inquiry by the state Attorney General, a federal grand jury and allegations implicating 42 members of the agency's Troop E.
Authorities at a press conference Wednesday said the charges represented "just the beginning" of the investigation.
While the scandal has already prompted reforms, including the elimination of Troop E and the activation of GPS tracking on state police cruisers, details of how much was stolen have remained secret as federal authorities continued their investigation.
Wednesday's charges offer the first concrete glimpse into how much the alleged overtime scam cost taxpayers: at least $50,000 in 2016, between just three of the 42 troopers under investigation.
Troop E, which was responsible for patrolling the Massachusetts Turnpike and Boston tunnels, was known as a lucrative posting for troopers because of its frequent access to overtime shifts. Accident Injury Reduction Effort (AIRE) patrols were four-hour overtime shifts designed to reduce crashes on the Pike and X-Team patrols targeted aggressive driving.
And both programs were allegedly targeted by Cesan, Herman and Wilson to embezzle public money, according to federal authorities.
Wilson, a 32-year veteran of the force who retired amid the investigation earlier this year, worked in the Charlton barracks and served as an Officer in Charge for overtime shifts, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Karen Lostracco.
In 2016, he was paid $230,123, including payment for 683 hours of AIRE overtime for which he earned about $100 per hour.
He allegedly stole $12,450 by not actually working 124.5 hours of those shifts, according to the affidavit. Wilson allegedly used a combination of no-show shifts and partially worked shifts that he substantiated using "ghost tickets" -- citations submitted to support his overtime claims but which were never sent to the Massachusetts RMV.
Both Cesan and Herman, who were troopers assigned to the Westfield barracks, are accused of both leaving shifts between one and seven hours early and skipping shifts entirely.
Cesan, a trooper assigned to the Westfield barracks, allegedly stole $29,287 of the $160,533 he was paid in 2016 -- more than half his total overtime earnings for that year.
Herman, who raked in $227,826 that year, including $63,053 in overtime pay, allegedly stole $12,468 by abusing the AIRE and X-Team programs. Both Cesan and Herman earned about $75 per hours on those shifts.
In her affidavit, Lostracco wrote that federal authorities used a "conservative methodology" to calculate the amounts allegedly stolen, crediting troopers for extra hours they may have worked and for commuting time.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation spent a total of $1.12 million funding the overtime programs in question in 2016, MassLive learned this week.
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