A retired Massachusetts State Police trooper was arrested by the FBI Wednesday for allegedly collecting $14,000 for overtime he didn’t work, becoming the fifth current or former trooper charged in an expanding federal investigation.
Daren DeJong, 56, of Uxbridge, was led Wednesday afternoon into US District Court in Boston in leg irons and handcuffs for his initial appearance on a charge of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds.
He was released without bail after the brief session, but ordered to avoid any contact with former colleagues in Troop E, the now-disbanded State Police unit linked to a growing overtime scandal. He was also required to turn over all of his firearms.
DeJong’s lawyer, Brad Bailey, told reporters after the court appearance that his client denies the charges against him.
“He is looking forward to trying this case and at the appropriate time he will be responding to those allegations,” Bailey said. This is an individual who has worked in the public sector as a dedicated police officer and as a trooper for a total of 32 years.”
DeJong earned $179,000 in 2016, which included $63,000 in overtime — $14,062 for hours he failed to work, according to an FBI affidavit filed in court.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a release that DeJong “was sworn to uphold the law,” yet “betrayed the public trust by embezzling funds from the Massachusetts State Police.”
Lelling said DeJong’s arrest “is another step in our ongoing effort to root out fraud and ensure that public funds are appropriately used.”
Former Lieutenant David Wilson, 57, of Charlton, Trooper Gary Herman, 45, of Chester, and former Trooper Paul Cesan, 50, of Southwick were arrested on similar charges earlier this month and another retired trooper, Gregory Raftery, 47, of Westwood has pleaded guilty to embezzlement.
Dozens of current and former Troop E members have been linked in recent months to the alleged pay scandal, resulting in a wide-scale audit, a series of internal State Police investigations, the attorney general’s probe, and the disbanding of the entire unit.
Records show some troopers reported earning five- and six-figure overtime payouts.
DeJong, like the other troopers ensnared in the scandal, was a member of the now-defunct Troop E, which was tasked with patrolling the Mass. Pike.
The troop members were able to work Accident and Injury Reduction Effort, or AIRE, overtime shifts, as well as extra shifts that were part of an “X-Team” initiative.
An affidavit filed in the case said DeJong “purposefully” did not work the entire overtime shifts he signed up for, regularly leaving one to seven hours early.
He concealed his alleged fraud by altering citations he wrote during regular shifts to make it appear as if they were issued during overtime hours that he in fact didn’t work, as well as submitting phony citations that were “never issued to motorists and which were never submitted to the RMV,” the affidavit said.
In addition, DeJong’s cruiser radio data repeatedly showed that his official vehicle was turned off during entire overtime shifts that he claimed to be working, the affidavit said.
As with the other charged troopers, the document said investigators used a “conservative methodology” to estimate the amount of overtime cash that DeJong allegedly stole from his agency.
According to the state treasurer’s office, DeJong started receiving a pension from the state at the end of June. He receives a monthly retirement benefit of $6,251.99. That’s a gross amount, before taxes.