NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Just 20 minutes before his State Police shift ended, Trooper Eric Curlee pulled up to a Kenner house, dropping off a child in his police vehicle.
The date was August 21, 2017 when our undercover surveillance caught this on camera. According to his timesheet, Curlee stayed on the clock until 4:00 PM, but dropped the child off at 3:40.
Still image from FOX 8 surveillance video
State Police policy allows officers to pick up and drop off family members when traveling to or from work. But even with the pick-up, Curlee reached his residence 20 minutes before his shift ended on his timesheet.
Five days earlier, August 16, Curlee arrived home at 2:56 PM. But, according to his timesheet, State Police paid him for an additional one hour and four minutes of work. On August 22, his shift started at 6:00 AM, but Curlee didn't leave for work until 6:46.
"When you start a shift, we expect you to finish that shift and, during the shift, for you to be out there, doing what the public's paying us to do, providing a public safety product to them," says Col. Kevin Reeves, superintendent of Louisiana State Police.
"If you're being paid a salary, you need to be working," CPA Patrick Lynch says. "You need to earn your keep."
When we started our undercover investigation, we focused on the LACE program, an overtime detail that allows troopers to write tickets for parish governments and make extra money. But we quickly realized questions about potential payroll fraud extended to regular State Police shifts, funded by every taxpayer in Louisiana.
"If your home is on your route, where you live is an area that you're responsible for, you can go by your home and have a dinner break," Reeves notes. "But no, staying at your home for hours on end while you're getting paid is unacceptable."
Most of the questions we have involve what Col. Reeves may call unacceptable:
- On August 1, Trooper Shawn Boyd worked an overnight shift. His timesheet says he went off the clock at 6:00 AM, but we found his vehicle returning to his Harvey home at 4:45 - one hour and 15 minutes before the end of his shift;
- On August 2, Boyd's shift again ended at 6:00 AM, but he returned home at 5:00 AM, an hour early;
- And on August 9, Boyd's timesheet shows a 6:00 PM to 3:00 AM workday. We found Boyd leaving at 6:42 PM, 42 minutes late, and ending his workday at 1:54 AM, one hour and six minutes before the end of his shift.
State Police says supervisors are responsible to monitor troopers, but that it mostly comes down to an honor system.
"They're spread out all over," Reeves tells us. "We do our best to verify where our employees are. But, you know, like with any organization, we have to trust that our employees are doing the right thing for the right reason and being where they're supposed to be."
- On June 29th, Trooper Byron Sims billed taxpayers until 5:30 PM; we found his vehicle at his West Bank house at 4:10;
- On the 20th of July, he worked a protection grant, leaving at 5:55 PM, five minutes before his shift started. But Sims arrived back home at 8:19 PM, one hour and 40 minutes before he stopped billing taxpayers on his timesheet.
"Going and staying at your house is unacceptable for anybody at Louisiana State Police while you're being paid," Reeves says.
Both Lynch and the State Police superintendent say our investigation should infuriate troopers working a full schedule, earning every dollar they are paid.
Lynch calls it this sort of conduct an aberration. "I would think the good cops would want to get rid of these," he says, "and therefore would conduct a thorough and objective investigation and let the pieces fall where they may."
"I believe that the vast majority of our troopers around the state, in the Troop B area and around the state, go to work every day, they put this uniform on and they go to work, and they have the full intention of giving the public the best product they can," Reeves says.
But Lynch says taxpayers funding salaries topping $200,000 a year should be outraged to see troopers possibly skipping out on work while still being paid.
"It's appalling where people in Louisiana, household income... and most people have dual incomes, if they're married, making $48,000, $45,000, paying taxes," Lynch says. "And these jokers are raking in in excess of $100,000 and not working their full shifts. This is an insult to the taxpayers."
We sent a letter to each trooper mentioned in our investigation; they haven't returned our requests for comment.
Our State of Unrest investigation continues Wednesday on FOX 8 News at 10.