The overtime game

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  May 4, 2006

The second slip shows Martel “starting” an overtime shift at exactly the same time he ended the first one: 1 pm. The start and end times are certified by Sergeant Detective James Wyse, another member of the homicide unit and the lead detective in the Stephens investigation. Now Martel wrote that he was doing grand-jury “prep” for the same case, somewhere in the city. Both forms are signed by Paul Farrahar, the head of the homicide unit at the time, authorizing eight hours of overtime for Martel.

Perhaps a serious review might have determined that Martel’s overtime hours were justified. But even after its own investigation uncovered dozens of questionable overtime slips in 2001, the department failed to follow up. Farrahar, then head of the homicide squad, was asked to review 48 overtime slips charged to Suffolk Superior Court for time the officers did not actually spend in the courthouse. His memo in response, which was included in court documents, shows that he explained only 20 of the 48 slips. Yet in his testimony for the Broderick lawsuit, Superintendent Robert Dowd said that Farrahar’s memo satisfied him that the concerns had been addressed.

In fact, the evidence suggests that Farrahar, as well as Frank Armstrong (who then headed the drug-control unit), routinely authorized questionable overtime slips without challenging their legitimacy — even signing their own names where the court officer was supposed to certify the start and end times for those shifts. Two such slips with Farrahar’s signature where the court officer’s verification belongs are among two-dozen time slips from early 2001 made available to the Phoenix. Armstrong even sent a memo, which was introduced during the trial, to his officers in which he told them to simply sign his name on those lines.

Farrahar once authorized two slips for Martel that overlapped by a half-hour on the same day, as shown by court documents. Another document shows that he authorized court overtime for another detective, Robert Harrington, for a court appearance on Memorial Day, when the court was closed.

And when Broderick tried to crack down, Farrahar got angry, the former testified. He said that one day detective Dennis Harris claimed he was going to the grand jury and going to meet with an assistant district attorney. When Broderick checked, he found that Harris had not signed into the grand jury, and the ADA said he had no meeting with Harris. Farrahar blew up at Broderick over the incident.

Where are they now?

More overtime, less investigation?
In 2001 and 2002, Broderick began cracking down by requesting that officers obey the regulations: sign in and out, and show the subpoena, summons, or prosecutor request for their appearance.

Broderick testified that uniformed officers from the districts quickly complied. But the homicide detectives refused. And, figures show, their total overtime compensation did not decline.

Broderick contended that some homicide detectives were more concerned with earning overtime than with working cases. And, as he testified, “that raises some problems when you have a homicide detective who is lying to me and lying on a court slip, because now his truthfulness is being called into question.”

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