Charges against 54 current and former California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers were announced Thursday in connection to an alleged overtime fraud scheme.

An internal investigation was launched on the East Los Angeles CHP division, finding that between January 1, 2016 and March 31, 2018, $226,556 worth of fraudulent overtime hours were allegedly logged by the officers.

“Trust is a critical part of successful law enforcement,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta 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.”

It is alleged that the officers logged the extra hours when working protection detail for Caltrans workers through the Maintenance Zone Enhanced Enforcement Program or the Construction Zone Enhanced Enforcement Program.

A red flag was found during a 2018 audit of hours, where CHP Captain Chris Margaris noticed the East L.A. division, one of the city’s smallest departments, logging in up to three times the overtime hours of some of the CHP’s largest covered areas.

Margaris then found inaccuracies in the Caltrans details, leading to the belief that the officers “may have submitted for and received compensation for overtime assignments not physically worked.”

Two of the alleged offending officers had been previously arraigned on charges of conspiracy, in connection to an alleged bribery scheme where the officers accepted money in return for  falsifying registration documents for exotic “gray market” cars.

The L.A. County Sherff’s department arrested the alleged officers involved between February 15-17, with arrangements scheduled for all 54 officers between March 17-18.

LA Weekly