54 Current or Former California Highway Patrol Cops Charged in Fraud Scheme

The California attorney general has announced charges against 54 individuals in connection to an alleged scheme in which California Highway Patrol officers have been accused of inflating their overtime hours.

Out of the 54 former and current officers charged on February 17, 11 of them currently worked at the CHP. According to the Los Angeles Times, those 11 have been put on administrative leave as the investigation into the charges continues. The total amount of overtime allegedly stolen throughout the scheme was $226,556.

"Trust is a critical part of successful law enforcement. 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," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. "I'm thankful to CHP for its thorough investigation and for working with DOJ to hold these officers accountable."

California Highway Patrol
Over 50 current and former CHP officers have been charged with overtime fraud. Above, a police car blocks the road near the scene of a crash between an SUV and a semi-truck full of gravel near Holtville, California, on March 2, 2021. Patrick T, Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

According to the East L.A. office's website, the division is comprised of "two lieutenants, 10 sergeants, 79 officers, and 16 non-uniformed personnel with a spectrum of duties from clerical to fleet maintenance." With 11 of these officers currently facing charges and on administrative leave, 68 officers remain. When asked by Newsweek about the effect that these charges have had on the East L.A. division workforce, the CHP said that around 47 new officers were added to the patrol since the beginning of the month, with "10 of those [being] assigned to the East Los Angeles Area office."

In a separate statement, the CHP wrote that they "uncovered the overtime fraud in the East Los Angeles area several years ago during an internal examination."

The investigation into potential fraud began in May 2018, with the investigation itself covering January 1, 2016, to March 31, 2018, according to the Times. Officers charged in the case are accused of inflating their overtime hours when working with the California Department of Transportation to protect construction workers. Bonta explained this further in his statement.

"For instance, rather than recording the three to four hours actually worked at a detail, an officer would allegedly record and receive pay for eight hours of overtime," he explained.

However, many of the officers accused of being involved in the scheme are maintaining their innocence. According to former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, the charges being filed against the officers are a big mistake, and Bonta has no idea what he is doing.

"He [Bonta] is being poorly represented by deputy attorney generals assigned to the case," Cooley was quoted by the Times. "He will discover sooner or later [that] the California Highway Patrol's conduct is unacceptable, they are selectively prosecuting and terminating from one station all because of a legitimate labor grievance and that this is retaliation of biblical proportions."

Update 2/18/2022 at 4:55 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include a new quote from the California Highway Patrol.