Deters: No crime, but some officers purposely maximized OT

The police department’s latest audit determined overtime has nosedived in three units since the allegations emerged

Deters: No crime, but some officers purposely maximized OT
FILE PHOTO (Source: WXIX)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A review of Cincinnati police overtime by state auditors has determined that while some officers took advantage of the system to maximize their compensation, no crime was committed, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced Friday.

Deters said he and former State Auditor Dave Yost, now Ohio’s Attorney General, came to that conclusion last week after receiving some results of the audit. Based on that, he said they are not going to do “anything on that.”

Deters said he called Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Police Chief Eliot Isaac Thursday night to notify them.

It's not clear when the city's annual audit will be out.

It also is not clear of Cincinnati police officials plan to pursue administrative charges against the officers Deters said took advantage of the system to maximize their compensation.

We asked that question when we reached out to city and police representatives, as well as a spokeswoman for the mayor.

“I trust the findings rendered by an independent agency," Cincinnati City Councilman Councilman Jeff Pastor said. "I’m confident that Chief Isaac will make the necessary corrections by following recommendations outlined in the findings.”

"There's been a problem. Ultimately, it comes back to management and if there is a problem, we want to make sure it is satisfied. We are going to review the report and look at what changes have been made in oversight. Are they adequate going forward or not?

"Based on what we have learned about recent years, oversight was not adequate," he continued. "We understand that overtime is a part of policing. The question is: When overtime is approved is it justified?

"The most troublesome thing always is someone approving their own overtime. We need to make sure any approved is by someone not taking it.

“I want to see closer look at overtime,” he said. “It’s real money and, considering the money challenges we have, we want to major sure all overtime is necessary. That ultimately is the issue I am very interested to learn: What controls are in place ? That is the ultimate question.”

We also have not heard back from the offices of the state auditor and attorney general.

Deters asked Yost to get involved after a draft of the previous interdepartmental audit found “intentional actions to maximize compensation” and a federal lawsuit then alleged “felony theft” of police overtime, Hamilton County.

Last month, Cincinnati police quietly unveiled new overtime procedures requiring more oversight and documentation.

The police department’s latest audit -- of the first 13 pay periods of 2018 -- determined overtime has nosedived in three units at District 5 since the abuse allegations emerged. A FOX19 NOW analysis shows overtime fell by a total of $161,151.71 compared to the same time period in 2017, according to a copy of the audit.

The current District 5 commander, Captain Doug Weisman, earned a total of $19,455.45 in the first 13 pay periods of 2018. He became D5′s leader in March of 2018, when the chief shuffled several staff members in reassignments.

A draft of the last interdepartmental audit, turned over to Isaac in early 2018, concluded the previous District 5 commander, Capt. Bridget Bardua, collected overtime and compensatory pay valued at about $80,000 in all of 2017, about $20,000 more than any other district commander. It also found she approved overtime and compensatory time for two of her sergeants worth at least $90,000 each.

Cincinnati police officials have disputed the audit’s findings, draft that was leaked to the media, not a final version. It was leaked before it was checked for accuracy and had inaccurate figures, and has since been updated with correct and lower totals, city memos show.

Bardua and another person who was among the highest overtime in the draft audit, Jason Voelkerding, are no longer at District 5. Voelkerding is now a District 4 lieutenant and Bardua is a captain running Special Investigations.

They are not among officers whose overtime pay was sampled during the most recent audit, a copy of it shows.

It’s not clear why, especially considering the high overtime they collected, according to the last audit.

Shortly after the 2017 audit was turned over to the chief in early 2018, Bardua filed a sexual discrimination complaint. She accused two assistant chiefs, Dave Bailey and Paul Neudigate, who was Bardua’s direct supervisor at the time, and Captain Jeff Butler, of singling her out in the audit because she’s a woman and “also because I support an African American Chief of Cincinnati Police.”

The city manager at the time, Harry Black, was so upset the audit was leaked, he called for federal prosecutors to investigate what he described as a “rogue element" corrupt in the police department in an effort to undermine the police chief’s authority.

Two days after the audit was leaked, Bailey was forced out.

The day after Bailey was gone, the mayor asked Black to resign. The mayor later explained he asked him to go over a pattern of “abusive” and “retaliatory" behavior. Black refused go to, and an intense public feud erupted between the two men.

READ MORE | Power struggle explodes at City Hall

A month later, Black resigned seconds before a special City Council meeting was called to order to fire him. By then, he’d lost majority council support in the wake of the Kyle Plush tragedy.

Shortly after Black left, Butler amended a federal lawsuit he originally filed in September 2017 against Black and and other city officials, this time naming Police Chief Eliot Isaac and alleging “felony theft” of police overtime. That prompted Deters and Yost to look into police overtime.

Auditors also looked at how the city spent money it received from state fees for emergency services.

Butler’s lawsuit also accuses Black of putting that money into the general fund instead of earmarking it for emergency services such as the city’s 911 center.

Yost was elected State Attorney General in November, and Keith Faber was elected State Auditor. In December, before he left office, Yost told us work on the audit would be complete by the end of the month and its release would be scheduled after that work was reviewed.

In early January, before administrations changed, Yost’s spokeswoman told us “the audit is not yet complete and we do not anticipate it will be until sometime around the end of the month."

In the midst of the state audit, it was revealed a box of audit records gathered by Butler had vanished within the police department.

Butler asked the current city manager, Patrick Duhaney, for an outside criminal and/or administrative investigation.

Butler and his lawyer, Brian Gillan, said Duhaney didn't respond.

In October, they amended Butler’s lawsuit again, alleging “spoliation of evidence.” At last check, the box remains MIA.

Late last year, as the state audit was wrapping up and months after police officials knew the box went missing, the police chief launched an internal investigation into the box’s disappearance.

But now, according to a memo obtained last month by FOX19 NOW, there are allegations of a conflict of interest in that probe.

READ MORE | Memo: ‘Several conflicts of interests’ in missing box probe

Butler’s lawyer said earlier this week the latest interdepartmental police audit’s findings validate Butler and Bailey’s conclusions in the previous audit that the system was being abused.

Gillan was out of town Friday and unable to provide comment on Deters’ announcement.

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