OAKLAND, Calif. (KERO) — California's attorney general has charged dozens of current and former state highway patrol officers with overtime fraud. The officers involved were booked this week.
At the California Highway Patrol, an alleged massive fraud scheme as officers are accused of milking the clock and stealing hundreds of hours of overtime.
According to the state attorney general, the charges include 54 current and former officers, theft and fraud charges, and $226,000 in total fraud.
"I think for the public it always feels like a gut punch when those who are supposed to protect them and those who earn their money on the public dime, allegedly violate that," said Loyola law professor Jessica Levinson.
The attorney generals' office says the investigation was launched in May 2018. They say during that period multiple officers in the East Los Angeles station were suspected of recording additional overtime hours when they were assigned to provide protection detail for California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) workers through a maintenance zone.
"On the one hand the fact that investigations have been done and charges that have been brought this is being taken seriously," said Levinson. "On the other hand the fact that charges are this broad, it's more than one or two people, indicates that there was potentially a systemic problem and frankly a systemic problem with corruption."
Two of the defendants, in this case, were also charged with conspiracy and bribery for allegedly taking money to falsify documents to register exotic cars.
"We could be talking about serious sentences and particularly when we are talking about aggravating factors like the fact that we're dealing with abuse of the public trust," continued Levinson.
CHP said in a statement that it takes the allegations seriously. Those officers charged who are still employed by the agency have been placed on administrative leave.