MONTPELIER -- Problems with the time reports of a former trooper charged with falsifying his time sheets for June appear to stretch back at least two years, the state’s public safety commissioner said Tuesday.
Commissioner Keith Flynn stopped short of calling time sheets filed by former Sgt. James Deeghan before June evidence of criminal activity. But he said they contain apparent anomalies.
"From what I have heard just from a preliminary report is that it appears that it’s gone back for approximately two years and maybe even longer," Flynn said. "We’re not saying that they’re criminal activity yet. We’re just saying that they’re anomalies that we’re looking at."
Deeghan, who had worked in the state police barracks in Williston, resigned under pressure July 10. On July 13, he was charged with two counts of false swearing, each a felony carrying a possible five-year prison term, alleging he falsified time reports for two pay periods in June. Authorities said he did so in part by reporting that he had responded to car crashes and other incidents that never occurred.
Affidavits filed in the criminal division of Chittenden Superior Court allege that Deeghan, a 22-year state police veteran, reported working 63 overtime hours during the two two-week pay periods in June that could not be confirmed when checked against police incident logs and other evidence. Those extra hours netted Deeghan
Flynn’s comments on Tuesday came at a news conference with Gov. Peter Shumlin, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan and other officials, which Shumlin said was to provide an update on progress into the Deeghan investigation.
Shumlin and the other officials said again that there had been no evidence uncovered that anyone aside from Deeghan, 49, had engaged in falsification of time sheets. But he and state Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon promised reviews of time reporting practices by the state police and throughout state government.
Shumlin said investigators expect by Aug. 3 to have reviewed Deeghan’s time sheets dating back to 2009 and compared them against police incident logs and other data to see whether they showed evidence of earlier false reporting.
He said there would be a similar review for all personnel at the Williston barracks dating back six months and for the entire state police force for three months.
Salmon said his office would hire outside help and launch a review of time reporting practices around state government, something he said had not occurred since 2007. He offered a preliminary cost estimate for the outside expertise at $100,000 and said the audit would be launched in September.
Flynn once again voiced doubts that Deeghan’s activities extended beyond him.
"This one incident of fraud does not define the Vermont state police," Flynn said.
Shumlin said the crimes Deeghan is accused of committing were an instance of "ripping off Vermont taxpayers and it won’t be tolerated."
Deeghan has pleaded not guilty.