4/30/2019Massachusetts: Ticket Quota Cop Wants To Avoid Jail Time
Massachusetts cop caught issuing bogus tickets under a federal ticket quota program seeks home confinement instead of prison.
A former Massachusetts state trooper who admitted he ripped off federal taxpayers and issued bogus speeding tickets is now begging a US District Court judge for leniency. Daren DeJong, 57, took home a net salary of $179,971 in 2016 thanks in part to the overtime cash he collected on a federally funded speed trap detail on Interstate 90, which runs from the border with New York to Boston Harbor.
DeJong's downfall came when he accepted the $16,000 bonus from a US Department of Transportation-funded program without fulfilling the federal ticket quota. Both the Accident and Injury Reduction Effort (AIRE) program and the X-Team program mandated the issuance of predetermined numbers of citations to qualify for the overtime payment. DeJong did not actually work the ticketing shifts that he claimed. Instead, he cooked the books and went home early, as did forty of his trooper colleagues.
"Troopers were expected to issue a minimum of eight to ten citations for each AIRE shift and twelve to fifteen citations for each X-Team shift," assistant US attorney Mark Grady wrote. "Any failure to issue the required number of citations drew negative scrutiny from supervisors and command staff."
During what was supposed to be an eight hour shift on patrol, the troopers would rush to get all the required tickets issued in an hour so they could go home. If the weather was bad, making it hard to issue speeding tickets, they would just go home without writing any tickets with the supervisors marking the troopers as "redeployed."
"Because Massachusetts State Police required that Troopers working the AIRE and X-Team overtime shifts generate citations, DeJong created bogus citations in order to claim hours that he had not worked," Grady wrote. "An hour or more before the end of his regular shift, DeJong would stop individuals, and/or run driver's histories, and would create bogus citations which he would then claim had been written during the AIRE overtime shift."
Investigators used radio logs and computer records to confirm that DeJong was not working when he claimed to be on the job. Federal prosecutors want DeJong to spend six months behind bars for embezzlement, which would be the stiffest punishment issued to members of Troop E. Thus far, a judge has imposed a three month sentence on Trooper Gregory Raftery and a single day behind bars for Trooper Eric Chin. DeJong admitted his guilt and now is asking the judge to impose a sentence of home confinement for six months, instead of a prison sentence.
"The fact that the acts he committed were done within the context of a rigorously enforced citation quota system also suggest they were unlikely motivated by greed," DeJong attorney Bradford Bailey wrote. "The incidents outlined above amply demonstrate that DeJong sacrificed much, and otherwise performed his duties admirably, over the course of his long career."
DeJong is currently enjoying a $75,000 state pension.