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Monday, November 21, 2011

Police Overtime Scrutinized

Police overtime scrutinized
The Albany Times Union by Kenneth C. Crowe II - November 18, 2011
Authorities looking into allegations involving five Troy sergeants

TROY, NY -- Five police sergeants are under investigation for allegedly taking sick time to boost each other's overtime income, police and city officials said Friday. The state Attorney General's office has participated in the ongoing investigation, Chief John Tedesco said. The alleged overtime padding involving five of the department's 27 sergeants came to light as the city prepares its defense in a federal lawsuit brought by 16 police officers for nonpayment of overtime for a week in November 2010. The alleged overtime scheme occurs as the city administration has tightened payments for officers working overtime. In 2010, the city paid $500,000 less in overtime for the 125-member department than the year before, according to city budget reports. As city payroll records were reviewed in January for the court case, the five sergeants came under suspicion of calling in sick so that other sergeants would take their place while being paid overtime, Tedesco said Friday following a departmental promotional ceremony. Overtime payments are included in calculations to determine a police officer's retirement pay.

In 2010, 13 of the top 25 overtime earners in the city were police officers, according to city records obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request by the Times Union. The records also showed that 97 of the city's 708 employees made $10,000 or more in overtime that year. A detailed audit of department payroll records has so far uncovered no evidence of the swap, according to City Council members briefed on the investigation in an executive session during Thursday night Finance Committee meeting. The council members asked not to be identified because of the confidential nature of the investigation. The council members approved a budget transfer of $5,700 to pay for the forensic audit by a private firm. Officer Robert Fitzgerald, president of the Troy Police Benevolent Association, said he does not know what the audit has uncovered. He said he has not seen the audit. Tedesco said the audit is part of an ongoing internal department investigation and would not be made public. The identities of the five sergeants have not been released. Tedesco declined to provide additional details of the investigation. When Tedesco was promoted to chief in 2010, he was ordered by Mayor Harry Tutunjian to reduce police overtime costs. Tutunjian also declined to comment on the investigation. The police department paid $1.38 million in overtime in 2009, which dropped to $838,513 in 2010, according to city budgets. Tedesco said he anticipates another $250,000 reduction in overtime when the year is over. Reach Kenneth C. Crowe II at 454-5084 or

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