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State trooper ticket scam leads to audit | #phishing | #scams | #hacking | #aihp

State police are looking into whether federal funds covered the salaries of four troopers caught fabricating hundreds of fake tickets and the contractor which tracks police racial profiling data will begin looking into whether demographic information it received was tainted by fraudulent tickets.

James Rovella, commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Service and Public Protection and a member of the racial profiling project’s advisory board, on Thursday revealed during a board meeting that state police are reviewing whether, at any point, federal money covered the salaries of the four troopers while they created fictitious tickets.

“I asked my financial officer to review the four troopers and funding sources, and that is pending,” Rovella said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office recently asked the Connecticut Racial Prohibition Project if officials knew whether federal funding was involved, an indication of interest by federal authorities.

Meanwhile, the profiling project on Thursday was authorized to begin looking into whether the project received fake profiling data from the four state troopers, a process that could be completed by the end of next month. All Connecticut police officers are required to complete a form containing demographic information on anyone stopped or ticketed and that data is sent to the profiling project for analysis.

If the audit finds that fake profiling data was submitted, a full audit of the state police will be conducted, dating back to Jan. 1, 2014, the advisory board agreed. The information is used to determine if police stop certain racial or ethnic groups more frequently.

“Our goal is to answer one narrow question: could falsified records be in our system,” said Ken Barone, project manager and associate director for the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy based at UConn Hartford.

“We can begin assessing the activity of these four troopers and report back in October,” Barone told his board, which consists of a wide range of state officials, prosecutors, justice advocates and others.

The advisory board’s decision is in response to a recent Hearst Connecticut Media Group report that state police investigators in 2018 discovered four troopers had collectively entered at least 636 fake tickets into the state police computer system over a nine-month stretch to make themselves appear more productive than they really were. Officials believed some of the troopers had created additional fake tickets dating back years.

Internal Affairs reports show the tickets were fabricated to gain perks from supervisors, including specialty vehicles and positive evaluations, which can lead to better assignments, promotions and pay raises.

Following the Hearst Connecticut Group report, the Chief State’s Attorney launched a criminal investigation into the trooper’s actions.

According to internal records, when state police supervisors first uncovered the fake tickets, they believed the schemes may have, at times, involved inputting phony demographic information collected under the racial profiling law.

State Police Commander Col. Stavros Mellekas, a member of the profiling project’s advisory board, did not attend the virtual meeting on Thursday. He has said fake

profiling data was not transmitted to the racial profiling project.

Barone told the advisory board he does not believe municipal police departments could create fake tickets in the way that troopers did.

“I’ve heard some concern that this could be occurring in municipal departments,” Barone said. “We are less concerned that falsified records from municipal departments could be in our system. There is a different record keeping system for municipal police. I am satisfied that municipal police have a different standard operating procedure that would prevent this from occurring in a significant way.”

Barone added “some of the safeguards that exist for municipal systems do not exist for the state police. The ability to create falsified records is much easier in the state police system. Some of this has to do with how state police operate and dispatch.”

Several advisory board members suggested that Barone inform the chief state’s attorney office of their plan to investigate whether fake profiling data was sent to their database.

Gail Hardy, a state’s attorney and advisory board member, said she will brief officials at the chief state’s attorney’s office.

“I will report back after this meeting,” Hardy said. “We are in the early stages of a probe and there is no more information that I can share at this point. I will report back and see what [Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin’s] feelings are regarding a parallel probe. I don’t see that anything this group does will interfere with a criminal probe.”

Referring to questions from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Barone said the contact was informal.

“It is my understanding there is not a federal role,” Barone said. “We were contacted by staff from the US Attorney’s office. I told them we don’t know much, and it will take weeks and months to better understand. I said call back in a few weeks and we will have a better understanding.”


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