A police officer who is collecting pay for being in two places at one time is obviously doing something wrong.

But that was not the only problem revealed by an audit ofs the pay of a now-retired police officer in the Merrimack Valley town of Groveland.

Melanson Heath & Co. of Andover, in a February 2009 report covering the period from 2002 until 2008, when police Lt. Harold "Harry" Yeo retired on disability, found that he had collected $73,341 from the town in illegitimate pay.

The audit found that in some cases Yeo was paid even though he didn't show up for work. In others, it found he was working a regular shift, but also submitted slips for outside detail pay. It found that he received more than $12,000 in inappropriate accrued leave time and another $3,500 more that he should not have received in vacation buyback pay.

In addition to all that, it found he was paid about $52,000 by the Essex County Sheriff's Department from 2006 through part of 2008 for serving warrants and other civil process papers at the same time he was being paid to work as a Groveland police officer. This is reportedly still under investigation by the state Attorney General's office and the FBI, although neither agency would confirm it.

Meanwhile, Yeo is collecting 72 percent of his former $85,000 salary, tax free, and getting lifetime medical care, because he retired under the provisions of the "Heart Bill," which says heart disease, or simply high blood pressure, suffered by a public safety officer, is assumed to be work-related, and therefore qualifies that person for disability retirement.

But if the audit findings are confirmed, they also point to a shocking lack of oversight and a police payroll system that is an open invitation to abuse. The auditors found that almost all payroll and traffic detail slips lacked basic information — time of day, specific hours and, in some cases, proper authorization. They found that officers submitted slips under an "honor system," where they were to say whether they had used personal time, compensatory time or vacation time to work those details.

And just as outrageous was the fact that as of last week town officials were claiming those records were private.

For far too long, elected officials at all levels have behaved as if their highest duty is to public employees. It is not. It is to the public at large, which must pay the bills for outrages like this.

Sadly, when they attempt to cover up corruption like this, they are sure to get more of it.

Trending Video

Recommended for you