One has to marvel at the audacity of the union representing the rank-and-file members of the Massachusetts State Police. Mired in a widespread, still-unravelling overtime abuse scandal -- a scheme that has cost taxpayers millions -- the union has decided to sue for more OT pay.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the State Police Association of Massachusetts, or SPAM, claims supervisors did not take into account stipends when they calculated troopers’ overtime rates. Failing to add such payouts as the $750 uniform allowance cost troopers millions over the last three years, the union claims. It wants the state to pay out $18 million, which would include triple damages. That’s a lot of overtime pay.
The question here is whether that is for actual time worked or for the untold hours of “overtime” dozens of troopers fraudulently claimed over the past several years. The troopers wrote phony tickets and turned in falsified time sheets with overtime shifts. In 2018, 46 troopers were implicated; nine pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges with the remainder retiring or facing internal discipline.
In December, two retired State Police supervisors were arrested on federal charges of stealing overtime pay while overseeing the Traffic Programs Section. They are also accused of destroying records to cover their tracks.
And still making its way through the court system is the federal case against SPAM’s former president, Dana Pullman. He was arrested in 2019 and charged with taking kickbacks from the union’s former lobbyist and using union money for personal expenses including gifts for a girlfriend.
Every month, it seems, new details trickle out about overtime abuse. Yet the 1,900-member union, instead of backing reform and working to regain the trust of the public, is clawing after more money even as fraud cases are working their way through the courts. Imagine if this happened in the private sector, and an employee caught embezzling complained that the accounting department miscalculated his expense report. It wouldn’t fly there and it shouldn’t fly here.