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February 14, 2011

DiNapoli: Kingston Officer Defrauding
Public in "Double Dipping" Scheme

Officer Claimed to be Working for the City and School District Simultaneously

A City of Kingston Police Officer claimed he was working as a detective for the city and providing security for the Kingston City School District at the same time, cheating taxpayers out of money and service, according to a review by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli's auditors have turned their findings over to Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright's Office, which is conducting its own investigation into the matter.

"Police officers are sworn to uphold the law and protect the public, but at least one Kingston officer chose to take advantage of his position and cheat taxpayers," DiNapoli said. "My office will expand its probe of city finances to make sure this is an isolated incident. This is taxpayer money. It's my job to protect it."

DiNapoli announced at a press conference today that his office would conduct a full audit of the Kingston Police Department that will examine the department's controls over payroll as well as the procedures for handling seized funds and other monies, as requested by Kingston Mayor James Sottile.

"We're providing Comptroller DiNapoli the city's full cooperation," Sottile said. "It's disturbing that the very individuals we've entrusted to enforce the law are breaking it. Kingston taxpayers deserve better. We'll work with Comptroller DiNapoli to make sure this doesn't happen again."

During a review of the Kingston City School District, DiNapoli's auditors identified potential problems regarding security services performed at the district by city police officers. They identified 13 individuals who worked for the district as security officers and for the city as police officers. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, these individuals were paid a total of $185,921 by the district for security services.

Based on a review of payroll records, auditors identified 16 instances, totaling 57 hours, in which one officer, Detective Lieutenant Tim Matthews, submitted a claim for hours worked as a security guard that coincided with the hours he claimed for police overtime.

For example, on September 8, 2009, district records show Matthews submitted a claim for working as a security guard from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., a shift of 15 hours.

On the same day, city records indicate that the individual claimed to work overtime hours from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. as a detective. City and district records document that he was working for both entities simultaneously from 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm, a period of 5.5 hours. Matthews is paid $26 an hour by the district and $52 an hour from the city for overtime.

Matthews made $58,694 from the district for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

DiNapoli's auditors also found one instance in which Matthews claimed to work a total of 37 hours during a 38.5 hour period.

Auditors found that Matthews, a supervisor in the department, was allowed to authorize his own overtime. City police department officials also did not maintain records to document the starting and ending times for shifts worked.

Click here for a copy of the review.

 

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