Six former California Highway Patrol officers were charged Thursday in a multi-year fraud scheme.
The officers, who worked at the East Los Angeles station, face a total of 97 counts, including one count each of grand theft and multiple counts of presentation of a fraudulent claim. Fraudulent overtime hours totaled $23,418.27, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
An investigation uncovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent overtime pay collected by officers and approved by their supervising sergeants in the agency's East Los Angeles office between March 2016 and into 2018, said Chief Mark Garrett, head of the agency's southern division.
Suspicions about the fraudulent overtime arose after command staff in the East Los Angeles office noticed anomalies in overtime records. All of the overtime logged for hours that weren't worked stem from assignments with road crews with the California Department of Transportation.
Officers can get between $86 to $104 an hour in overtime pay with the Caltrans details, which involves making sure transportation crews stay safe while they conduct maintenance and other work.
The investigation began in May 2018, Bonta's office said.
Rather than recording the three to four hours actually worked at a detail, an officer would allegedly record and receive pay for eight hours of overtime, according to the Attorney General's Office.
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"Trust is a fundamental part of effective law enforcement,'' Bonta said in the statement announcing the charges against the officers.
"I applaud CHP for taking action to investigate and seek accountability for those officers who have allegedly broken the public's trust,'' he said.
The California Highway Patrol has implemented changes since discovering the overtime fraud, including increasing management oversight and revising overtime procedures, Garrett said.