Monday, February 14, 2011

$300,000.00 ??? I don't think so.

A few weeks ago, a local blogger posted that Tim Matthews was suspended for claiming overtime for which he was not entitled to the tune of over $300,000.00, a claim which if true is absolutely staggering.

Thereafter, Matthews was charged with stealing $9,000.00 from an evidence safe, a serious charge, but nothing in the area of six figures. Still, the report from the State Comptroller was pending and surely this would provide the other $291,000.00, right? Wrong.

According to today's press conference, the audit found 57 hours of overtime which Matthews is alleged to have unjustly received. If you use the top possible hourly wage ($52.00 an hour), this amounts to $2,964.00 in total. In reality, it is likely less than this, but still in the ballpark.

Therefore, the total amount alleged against Matthews is approximately $11,064.00, which is a hefty sum, but nowhere near the $300,000.00 claimed by the blogger.

Here's another wrinkle to consider. Whenever, a police officer or fireman gets overtime, their contract sets a minimum of four (4) hours. So, if an officer or fireman actually spends 15 minutes of overtime, he or she gets paid for four hours of overtime even if they were working somewhere else for 3:45 of the four hours. This odd and truly bizarre contractual provision could lower the amount even further and might even eliminate the entire 57 hours alleged by the Comptroller.

The charge of stealing $9,000.00 remains and is a a serious matter. (Anything over $1,000.00 is a felony). Yet, the allegations reported on the blogs of theft in excess of over $300,000.00 are clearly untrue. Holly Carnright is right to investigate and prosecute this matter. Allegations of theft by a police officer of $9,000.00 are very serious. Please note that D.A. Carnright has never speculated or guessed at numbers. He has been a complete professional in his handling of the matter. He has waited for the facts before taking action, as any good prosecutor should.

The thing that bothers me is that people all over town have been throwing the $300,000.00 number around. Yet, it appears to be untrue. The only source I have found for the $300K number is the blog. This is why bloggers, though not journalists, must exercise restraint before printing pure rumors. The facts need to be determined. It was perfectly okay to report that Matthews was placed on administrative leave pending an audit. There was an e-mail out there confirming that. The bad judgment was printing the unconfirmed rumor regarding the dollar amount.

Being involved in politics as long as I have, I have heard my share of rumors. I must confess that I sometimes actually enjoy sharing some of the rumors with my friends and fellow politicos, if only to just compare notes. This is perhaps a negative character trait of mine. Nevertheless, certain rumors or stories are not to be printed or shared without confirmation, especially when they involve potential criminal liability or have serious ramifications upon innocent parties.


I have two additional things to add. First, I want to be clear that I do not think that the blogger in question acted with malice. In other words, I do not think he was trying to make things worse for Detective Matthews. Rather, I think he jumped the gun on the story and should have waited for more detailed information. He just wanted to report it first.

Second, there are other aspects of this investigation continuing to swirl. When all is said and done, the amount will be substantially higher than $11,000.00, but not $300,000.00 or anywhere near that amount.


Anonymous said...

Even the full story on the $9,000 hasn't been told yet. Was the money actually missing, or is it a case of sloppy paperwork and a rush to prosecute by the DA and city leadership? The time table between the safe being opened and felony charges being filed was very short and didn't leave much time to make sure that the $9,000 was actually stolen.
I am waiting to see how that case progresses as well, because other then a press conference I haven't seen anything else in the news about it, like an indictment, pre-trail or anything. This is a open and shut case....or is it?

Anonymous said...

As a police LT. he falsified records plain and simple. That in itself is a felony.You can dance around about call in minimums but if he were in the school working and took 15 minutes to take care of city business he should have punched out at the school. The minimums are in place for a reason. If a patrolman neglects to sign a report, then the administration won't bust his horns to come in and sign it then. As a Lt. what possibly could he have that only required 15 minutes of his time? This case stinks to high hell and Holly should be doing a complete investigation into all policemen working the school detail. He should be looking at why a Lt. could authorize his own overtime? Should the Lt. be management and if so why is he getting overtime? If not why didn't he have to seek overtime approval?

joe frank said...

Your analysis of 4 hours overtime is quite true. I have heard it for 15 years now by DPW/Fire/Police friends.

Why does someone get four hours over time if they only worked 1 hour or in some cases even less than one hour. By the way, do you know that the overtime starts when the person reports which is typically from the time they hang up the phone. If someone lives in Saugerties or say Highland or New Paltz we pay them to drive too.

If I were drawing up new contracts I would change the provision:

"Overtime is computed in one hour increments." For example, if you work 1 hour and 5 minutes you get two hours of overtime. To get four hours you must work between 3 and 4 hours.

While this "position" is worked out in the next contract - I also think that whoever is getting overtime needs to be assigned the job and stay "on post" for that period of overtime. In other words 30 minutes into their four hours of overtime they finish the job. Sorry, you can't go home. If you take the overtime you stay the overtime and if something else comes in during that four hour stint the work is yours.

This is the sort of Government waste - get four hours of overtime and work less - that just can not happen anymore.

Adam Bosch said...

We also published that number. I am pasting the exact line from our Jan. 20 story here.

"Several sources close to the investigation said Matthews had double-dipped for more than two years and earned roughly $300,000, although it was unclear how much of that was legitimate pay."

Here's the important distinction to make. It appears that Matthews made $300,000 during the two-year period that's been the focus of the double-dipping chatter. It's unclear how much of that money was from double dipping and how much of it was legitimate pay.

I hope that helps clear up some of the misunderstandings that have been rolling around town.

I'm also posting the link to our full report on yesterday's conference, in case you want a glimpse.


Anonymous said...

rich, I have heard where a person was called in for overtime and while on o.t. another call comes in that person signs out and then signs back in for another call out, not bad work if you can get it.
here is a case where we paid 8 hrs. call out for often less then 1/2 hours time.

Shamed !!! said...

Even if it were one cent it was too much.

Shame on Mathews,, SHAME !!!

He is giving ALL of Law Enforcement a bad name.

,,, AND he had the nerve to apply for the commissioner of jurors position ?

Anonymous said...

No one should be getting paid for work hours they didn't actually work. The contract calling for them to get paid a minimum of 4 hours overtime is ridiculous and should be done away with during the next contract negotiation. If overtime is part of the job requirement, you work it and get paid for the actual time you worked. No more, no less!

Anonymous said...

A couple of things bother me about all of this. One why is the Police Chief so silent on this? Maybe he should be, but even a "no comment" from him would at least assure me that he is looking into this matter too. And if it turns out it is 9,000.00 or less, how much did it cost us for this investigation? If more than that we the tax payers have been had yet again.

Anonymous said...

The four hours you are speaking of only applies for court appearences. If a cop goes to court and is their for 20 minutes he is compensated 4 hours overtime which if i'm not mistaken was reduced to 3 hours overtime. Otherwise just like everyone else the are compensated at a rate of time and a half for hours worked

Anonymous said...

Det. Mathews should have been handcuffed and taken to jail to post bail like every other alleged crook, period. He has been accused of stealing and he needs to experience what everyother citizen would if he or she were not a cop. If I were caught stealing 11,ooo.oo dollars of money from a business I worked in it would be an issue where i would have to post bail and go to court. Hearing people say that he is a nice guy and it was not as much as what was reported is rediculous.If he stole 100.00 dollars or 11,ooo dollars he is a criminal. Prison is loaded with some nice people that made bad choices. Mr. Mathews is a nice guy who made a bad choice.

Anonymous said...

does'nt matter if it was 300,000, or 3.00 it was wrong and he should pay for it just like anyone else

Anonymous said...

Check Fire Dept contract when a second, third and fourth alarms are pulled.

Anonymous said...

Taxpayers losing their homes - civil servants stealing, city dirty, the legacy of the good old boys.

Anonymous said...

$ 300K over 3 to 4 years is chump change - the School Board let the Teacher's Union steal 20 million and a social studies teacher draws 200K year plus his teacher's pension.

Richard T. Cahill Jr. said...

No question that Matthews should be punished if convicted. Theft is wrong whether i be $1.00 or $1,000,000.00.

However, the amount stolen is important to determine how much punishment is to be given. A defendant should be punished more severely for stealing $100,000.00 as opposed to $100.00.

Anonymous said...

Rich, alot of people enjoy reading blogs for the WOW factor.I do not expect blogs to have the same responciblity or acountablity as the Press. I will say that you are an exception to the other blogs. It seems that now the overtime in the contracts is taking over the story of what happened. Yes, those contracts need to be rewritten so that the taxpayers dont get the shaft. But, what about the system that allowed for this abuse, double dipping. Now to me, that is the story we should be digging into. Two goverments that allow this type of theft, should have there feet held to the fire. The administrations of the Kingston school district and the City of Kingston should not get a free pass. Where was the comptrolers? Who signed the checks? What idiot gave Mathews the ability to sign off on his own overtime. Just ordering internal audits will not cut it. The system of goverment has been broken for years, every one can see that. This is the time that some one in the School district and the City of Kingston be shown the door for not doing there jobs.Fire them, make an example of them.

Anonymous said...

HOw many firemen call in sick then work another job. Great to have unlimited sick time.