LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has dismissed felony wage theft and fraud charges against 48 Highway Patrol Officers who were accused in an overtime fraud scheme.
The Sacramento Bee reports the dismissals last Thursday ended most of the criminal cases against 54 CHP officers in East Los Angeles who were suspected of fraudulently obtaining pay for unworked overtime on Caltrans protective details in the area.
LA County Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen last month said he would reduce the felonies to misdemeanors and then dismiss them if the officers agreed to pay back the money the CHP accused them of improperly receiving. The deal did not require the officers to admit guilt.
Fifty-two officers took the deal, and 48 of them had satisfied its conditions in time for the charges to be dismissed Thursday, according to the Bee.
Two rejected the deal, and a preliminary hearing will be scheduled for them in February, according to state Attorney General Rob Bonta's office.
“Over our objection, the judge offered to reduce the felonies and allow the officers to complete a misdemeanor diversion program by paying restitution,” the attorney general's office said in an email to the Bee.
The CHP announced in 2019 that it had identified about $360,000 in fraudulent overtime pay at the East LA station through an investigation begun a year earlier. Chief Mark Garrett called the station’s overtime practices “abhorrent” and anomalistic among the department’s 103 offices around the state.
The highway patrol didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.