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54 California Highway Patrol officers charged in overtime fraud scheme

The scam resulted in more than $225,000 collected by the defendants who are accused of exaggerating their work hours, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta
Image: A California Highway Patrol vehicle is parked outside the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif, on Feb. 14, 2022.
A California Highway Patrol vehicle is parked outside the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif, on Feb. 14, 2022.Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Nearly five dozen former and current California Highway Patrol officers are accused of collecting more than $225,000 in a multi-year overtime scheme, the state’s top prosecutor announced Thursday.

The officers, with the East Los Angeles station, allegedly exaggerated the number of hours they worked between Jan. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2018, according to a statement from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

They face a total of 302 counts including charges of grand theft and the presentation of a fraudulent claim during a scam that collected $226,556, Bonta said.

“Trust is a critical part of successful law enforcement,” he said. “These defendants disregarded the law through their alleged actions and did so without thought of how their conduct would impact the California Highway Patrol or the community that trusted them to protect and serve. I’m thankful to CHP for its thorough investigation, and for working with DOJ to hold these officers accountable."

The highway patrol said in a statement: “As a professional law enforcement agency which holds it employees to the highest of standards, the CHP takes all allegations of misconduct seriously.”

The officers who are employed with the department, have been placed on administrative leave and “their peace officer powers" were removed, the highway patrol said.

The agency’s statement did not specify whether administrative leave was paid or unpaid and how many officers who were charged remain on the force.

The highway patrol launched an investigation in May 2018, prosecutors said. The defendants allegedly collected additional overtime hours they did not work while assigned to work safety details in a maintenance program and a construction-zone program.

Three former officers also recorded fake hours while monitoring congested traffic lanes, Bonta said.

“To support their fraudulent overtime claims, they manufactured fake warnings and assistance given to drivers,” he said.

The officers were booked by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department between Tuesday and Thursday, Bonta said. The defendants had appearances scheduled in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday and Friday, he said.