FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – An apparent scam between nine police officers to collect un-worked overtime hours will cost the City of Fort Worth far more than first thought.
Those officers are accused of falsifying traffic tickets to collect overtime pay for hours they didn’t work. Each of them has either quit or has since been fired. All face charges of tampering.
The officers’ pay came from a state-funded highway safety program. Now, the State of Texas wants its money back.
“Well, its pretty embarrassing for the city,” said Mayor Mike Moncrief. “Its embarrassing for the police department. I know it’s embarrassing for the chief and command staff and all of our officers, quite frankly.”
The city figured over a year’s time the officers were paid more than $95,000 for hours they didn’t work. The state says that’s not good enough. It wants reimbursement for all three years the officers worked for the program: $231,000.
“Whether all those hours were improper or not, I don’t know,” said Councilman Carter Burdette. “It may be the state just said given what we found with respect to those individuals to be on the safe side we want to get it all back.”
“Its a couple of hundred thousand dollars we didn’t foresee having to take out of the kitty,” Moncrief said. “We could certainly have used that to continue to close our gap or to see that it didn’t widen.”
But the city will reimburse the state. Now budget planners will have to dig into other programs or emergency funds for the cash.
“We either have those allocated in programs for the police department or we may take them out of unallocated surplus funds we have,” Burdette said. “Somebody’s going to pay for it.”
Burdette said the funds will not cost city tax payers any more in the future since the money will have to come out of the current budget. The city has asked for reimbursement for $105,483 dollars for overtime worked on the program this year. The state will hold that money and apply it to $231,364.82 debt the city owes.
Mayor Moncrief said he thinks city and police leaders have learned a lesson and will be much more vigilant for fraud in the future.
“We owe the people of this city better,” Moncrief said.