Courts & Corrections

Vermont State Police trooper arraigned for felony charges, details of fraud emerge in affidavit

James Deeghan. Photo courtesy of Vermont State Police
James Deeghan. Photo courtesy of Vermont State Police

The Vermont State Police sergeant who allegedly defrauded the state of thousands of dollars in overtime faces two felony charges of false claims greater than $500, with a possible sentence for each of up to five years in prison or $10,000 in fines.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan, whose office is prosecuting the case, said it went beyond Deeghan simply claiming to work when he wasn’t.

“It’s not just padding a paycheck. It’s fabricating events that did not occur,” Donovan said.

An affidavit submitted to the Chittenden County District Court arraignment Friday allege that former Sgt. James Deeghan, 49, who has been a State Police officer since 1990, fraudulently claimed 63 hours of overtime between June 3 and June 30. A state police investigation suggests Deeghan made up entire incidents, such as three traffic tickets, two car accidents and a building alarm.

The fraudulent timesheet claims add up to $3,023.28 for the month of June, according to a report submitted by Lt. James Cruise of the State Police. Since the fraud in question took place over two separate pay periods, the state was able to bring two felony counts against Deeghan.

Governor Peter Shumlin’s impromptu press conference Tuesday alerted media to the alleged fraud, but officials didn’t yet have details on the case. Shumlin rarely calls last-minute press conferences as he did Tuesday, and in so doing caused some members of the press to question why what appears to be an isolated incident of fraud led to one this week.

Information released to VTDigger suggests Deeghan’s overtime fraud may be more far-reaching than just last month. According to data released by the Department of Human Resources, Deeghan was the seventh-highest-paid state employee in Fiscal Year 2011 and the sixth-highest-paid in Fiscal Year 2012. In both years, Deeghan made more than Col. Thomas L’Esperance, the highest-ranking officer in the State Police.

In Fiscal Year 2011, Deeghan reportedly made $130,251, well over his $78,250 base salary. In FY2012, he topped that, bringing in $133,107.15. Job titles of employees who made more than Deeghan in FY 2011 and FY 2012, more often than not, have “Director,” “Commissioner,” or “Governor” in their job title.

“The important thing is we’ve only gone back one month so far, so this investigation will continue,” Donovan said. The State’s Attorney’s office may file additional charges against Deeghan at any time, he said. If they do add more, Donovan said that would likely be done before an August 30 status conference on the case.

Donovan wouldn’t say whether he thought the state would add charges and how sentencing might ultimately pan out, but “the investigation continues.”

Chittenden County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Mary Morrisey, a 15-year veteran of the office, is prosecuting the case for the state, and Donovan said he was confident she would do it right.

“I think she’s one of the best prosecutors in the state, if not the best prosecutor,” Donovan said.

The Vermont State Police released the following information about Deeghan’s employment history:

Employment information for James Deeghan
Date of Hire: 08-13-1990
Current Duty Station: Williston
Assignment History:
08-13-1990 – Orientation Tpr 2/c – Headquarters
09-04-1990 – Tpr 2/c – Academy
12-10-1990 – Post Basic Training – Tpr 2/c – Academy
12-24-1990 – Tpr 2/c – Colchester
08-18-1991 – Tpr 1/c – Colchester
08-29-1993 – Senior Trooper – Williston
02-03-1997 – State’s Attorney Investigator – Chittenden County
01-16-2000 – Senior Trooper – Williston
02-14-2002 – Sergeant – Patrol Commander – Lamoille County
07-11-2004 – Sergeant – Patrol Commander – Williston
07-10-2012 – Submitted Resignation

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  • Alex Barnham

    Police have too much power and self-investigations among the police departments is too secretive…we have similar problems in the military. Hopefully this is the catalyst for legislation to pry open the books.

    • Patrick Cashman

      “We have similar problems in the military.” Please provide some evidence for this claim. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is written and approved by Congress. That is how civilian control of the military in regards to discipline is applied. Civilian control does not mean that every civilian with an axe to grind gets a vote in how discipline is applied.

      • Alex Barnham

        My research has turned up this website.

        Are you familiar with the GLENDA EWING case?

        • Patrick Cashman

          Mr. Barnham,
          I will readily admit to regularly reading, it’s a fun guilty pleasure much like reading the National Enquirer. Despite the military slanted “Elvis lives and he just made Colonel” stories, like the Enquirer they even occasionally stumble on some interesting cases such as the Jill Metzger affair. However I would offer that hanging your hat on the Kevin Holt case or the understandable bias’ of his mother as a example of rampant injustice in the Military Justice system is unwise.
          While much hay is made of the differences between the US Justice system and the military justice system, overall the Military Justice system maintains an admirable balance of protections for the accused while punishing crimes and also enabling the much larger task of maintaining discipline.

          • Alex Barnham

            “There are a number of problems with the system, beginning with the fact that the base commander basically controls the process. The base commander recommends whether the case is sent for court-martial, holds the purse strings and then picks the jury. That system is in dramatic need of reform.”

          • Alex Barnham

            If I might also add this report
            The listed purposes of military law do not mention justice. According to the JAG “overview,” the military system is “specifically tailored for the armed forces and balances constitutional guarantees and fairness with the needs of good order and discipline.” Which means that those subject to military law do not have the same constitutional guarantees afforded under civilian law, where the objective is not good order and civil discipline but justice, say critics.

          • Patrick Cashman

            Actually Court Martial Convening Authority is through the chain of command. The Base Commander does not command all the personnel on a particular base, he/she exercises command authority only over those personnel actually assigned as Base personnel which is generally no more than a few hundred. To be fair it is appropriate for military justice to be aligned to command authority as the discipline of a unit is a Commander responsibility and it is his/her responsibility to determine what the appropriate resolution method is; Non-Judicial Punishment for more minor offenses (which the accused can refuse) or Court Martial for more serious offenses. As to the rest of your comments: it is true that military justice differs from the civilian justice system as the purpose is in some ways different. However while the accused has different protections in most ways they are equal if not superior to the protections found in the civilian system. I would point you to Article 31 of the UCMJ that clearly establishes the rights of the accused and which is read to any member involved (much like Miranda Rights, but read much earlier). As to panel selection, for a Special or General Court Martial the accused selects what form of panel he/she desires (panel of officers, panel of officers and enlisted, or a military judge alone). The Convening Authority orders the members to be available to serve on the panel, and the proposed members are selected following voir dire just as with a civilian jury. The system is different, that does not mean it is inferior or unfair.

  • Christian Noll

    There needs to be a separate, unrelated, unaffiliated civilian oversight committee.

    The police investigating the police is stupid, rudimentary, unethical and highly ineffective.

  • Jay Davis

    I actually could see this coming. I assume Deeghab at 49 is near retirement. The set pension in the VTSP calculates by taking top years including any over time, then a 50 percent reduction. This pension is for life.

    Deehgan and others before him have played the retirement gambit. Make your retirement lucrative, by getting lots of over time. In Deeghan’s case it was another officier, who heard his careless comments and then reported him to higher ranks.

    When you fail to superivise people especially in regard to pay, it opens the door to this kind of abuse.

  • Dan Luneau

    Most unfortunate for all concerned. Obviously there is not a process in place that could have prevented this. My question is why wasn’t there?

  • David Black

    Will he still get his $65,ooo.oo/year pension if convicted?

    • Dylan Gifford

      Only until the system collapses and everyone’s pensions are halved…
      I say lets confiscate his entire pension. He probably has a flush 401K with that fat salary he’s taken home the last few years anyway.

    • Alex Barnham

      He will probably need a big pension…I would say his blood pressure is thru the roof.

  • Christian Noll

    Its rather ironic that even if the Vermont Judiciary sentences him to an incarcerated sentence, he’ll cost the Vermont tax payer even more in way of $49,000 a year for being incarcerated, UNLESS we ship him out of state, then he’ll cost us half that amount.

    Its a “Loose – Loose” scenario.

    This was discovered because his subordinates heard him bragging about it, which tells me, this has been going on for a long time. I doubt he’s the only one to augment their pension by stealing “overtime” from the state of Vermont.

    “The Vermont State Police are the best Police in the entire country.” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to the Vermont Legislature, 2012

  • Alex Barnham

    Someday we will ask the incarcerated to pay for their crimes and their punishment…in most instances, we don’t even ask them to pay for their legal counsel. In our benevolence, we spring them out of jail early and let them back out on the street to perform more legal wonders and resubmit their bills for payment. Who came up with this plan? Lawyers. Pretty clever.

  • Charles Samsonow

    Two years – you have got to be kidding – here is someone who would arrest people all day long for the same incident ! and yet the idiot feels he’s entitled to the tax payers money – typical law and law enforcement mentality. This occurs because of Lawyers period – they are all liars – all of them, thats why the Zimmerman case is a mess and the Casey Anthony case was a mess. The average blue collar worker would lose his business and job forever and be incarcerated for a minimum of 4 to 6 years. I’m so discussed with law and law enforcement.
    And I’m not even a criminal and never have been. Lawyers should be ashamed of themselves – and yet they steal from us daily.
    What he did and was punished for is only on the surface – these people do this all the time – everywhere – because its tax payer dollars.
    Many many many more do the same thing – every day and these are people who we are to trust and can you imagine – they get issue a gun too – now that is really scary. These people can start trouble – keep it going – and break every law in the book – then lie about it in court and the idiot – judges know this is true and feed into the scam. Like I said before – thats why Congress is a real mess – they are all made up of lawyers – throw out morality and restructure new laws that apply to the rest of us – and exempt themselves. They are all above the law . Shame on you – you all disgust me to the nth degree.