2 New London police union officers cited for time-sheet discrepancies

New London — New London police administrators reprimanded two city police union officers last fall after each claimed overtime hours he didn’t work, according to documents The Day obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The officers in question are Sgt. Chuck Flynn and Officer Roger Baker, who serve the union as vice president and treasurer, respectively.

One of the private duty jobs was with Michael Baker International, a company overseeing work on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge. That instance involved Flynn alone and occurred Aug. 17. 

The other was an Eversource job slated for Aug. 31. Both Flynn and Baker were scheduled to work it.

Michael Baker International

According to William Kristoff, a project manager with Michael Baker International, Flynn assisted a crew performing bridge inspection for less than three hours Aug. 17. Kristoff spoke to The Day in November, after The Day learned of time-sheet improprieties but couldn’t get officials to confirm the names of those involved.

When Kristoff got a bill last fall for Flynn’s work, he said, it was for eight hours.

Per New London’s police union contract, an employee working private duty receives four hours’ pay even if he or she works less than four hours. If the employee works more than four hours but less than eight, he or she is to be paid for eight hours of work.

In other words, Flynn recorded working more than four hours on Aug. 17 to trigger a bill for eight hours' pay. That’s corroborated by a supervisor’s complaint written by Capt. Todd Bergeson, which shows that Flynn claimed eight hours Aug. 17.

According to the complaint, police headquarters surveillance camera footage shows Flynn leaving the department at 9:20 a.m. that day and returning at 12:05 p.m.

“Based on this information, it is apparent that Sgt. Flynn signed for overtime that he in fact did not work,” Bergeson wrote.

The city, it should be noted, first pays the employee for the overtime, then bills the relevant company.

According to Bergeson’s complaint, the city overpaid Flynn $240 for his work Aug. 17. Via email, Flynn said he asked the chief to withdraw any overpayment from his next check and assumes it was taken care of.

Kristoff said he quickly realized the error when he got the bill. The work Michael Baker does is for the state of Connecticut, so the company keeps close tabs on the state and local officers it employs for various tasks.

He said the city promptly sent a new, corrected invoice to reflect Flynn’s work that day.

Kristoff said such issues happen from time to time with officers across the state. Earlier last fall, for example, Kristoff said the South Windsor Police Department overbilled for an officer’s work and he missed it. State employees caught the error and contacted Kristoff, who then worked with South Windsor police to resolve the issue. 

“It happens,” Kristoff said.

Eversource

According to Bergeson’s complaint, both Flynn and Baker were assigned to the Aug. 31 Eversource job, which was supposed to last from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Those hours didn’t materialize because Eversource didn’t show up, the complaint states.

In reviewing surveillance video and available records, Bergeson learned two things: Flynn and Baker tried to contact Eversource that day to no avail, and they returned to police headquarters at 12:34 p.m.

The timing is notable because both Flynn and Baker billed for eight hours of pay that day, according to Bergeson’s complaint and supporting documents. Per department policy, however, time spent traveling to and from a private job is not to be counted as work. As such, Bergeson found, Flynn and Baker should have put in for just four hours of private duty.

In his complaint, Bergeson noted that both officers received pay for just four hours of work because administrators caught the discrepancy before checks were cut.

For both incidents, Bergeson found Flynn committed two counts each of false information on records and conduct unbecoming an officer. Baker was found to have committed one count each of the same two violations.

According to city personnel documents, police in November substantiated Bergeson’s findings and verbally reprimanded Baker and Flynn for the Eversource incident. Police additionally issued a written reprimand to Flynn for the Michael Baker International incident.

In the written reprimand to Flynn, Chief Peter Reichard wrote, “I am confident that this complaint, and its resulting reprimand, will ensure that no similar conduct will occur in the future."

Via email, Flynn said the time-sheet discrepancies were mistakes that he didn’t make with intent or malice.

“Once I learned of the problem I immediately went to the chief, admitted my mistake and accepted full responsibility for my action as any supervisor would since we must lead by example...” Flynn wrote.

Baker, also speaking via email, called the issue an internal one that was “blown out of proportion.” His verbal reprimand — one of the lower-level disciplines an officer can receive — is proof of that, he said.

Policy changes

According to email correspondence The Day received with its request, the August time-sheet improprieties led to two changes in policy at the department.

In a Sept. 13 email, Bergeson informed all department employees that, effective immediately, shift commanders would need to verify private duty hours before officers leave for the day. Bergeson instructed the commanders to sign off on each officer's hours in the overtime book.

On the heels of that email came one from Capt. Larry J. Keating, asking supervisors to ensure officers are eligible for the private duty jobs they accept.

Officers who are scheduled to work a regular shift should, in most cases, only accept four-hour overtime jobs on that same day, Keating wrote. Otherwise they run the risk of causing overlap in their overtime and regular pay, or double-dipping.

On Thursday, Capt. Brian Wright confirmed both polices remain in effect.

Reached by phone Thursday, police union President Todd Lynch said he retains “total faith” in Flynn and Baker. The former often keeps the union running smoothly while he’s away, Lynch said, and the latter has controlled the union’s funds with integrity.

Lynch alleged the time-sheet issue — one that has happened in the past with other officers — was treated with more scrutiny this time because of the pair’s involvement with the union. He also asked whether police administrators were concerned that details from another internal police issue had leaked to the media.

Regarding the latter, Wright said police are continuing an investigation into how the media learned about Flynn and Baker’s time-sheet discrepancies.

“We did exercise diligence with the matter,” Wright said. “But we have yet to discover who did it."

l.boyle@theday.com

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