Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the indictment yesterday of nine current and former Boston Police officers for alleged overtime fraud erodes trust in law enforcement at a time when that trust is already at an all-time low. And though she lauded U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and the FBI for their investigation, she criticized both for failing to sufficiently publicize the indictments, saying that this illustrates inequities in the criminal justice system.
"Did the U.S. attorney have a press conference yesterday when nine police officers were arrested? He did not. Neither did the FBI," she said. "I guarantee you, if these were nine members of the Latin Kings, or nine, you know, young Black men from Dorchester ... I guarantee you, Andy would have been up there with media everywhere, flanked with the male leadership of our federal and local and state law enforcement."
The nine officers, seven male and two female, all of whom worked in the BPD’s Evidence Management Unit, are each accused of one count of conspiracy to commit theft of federal funds, and one count of embezzlement of taxpayer dollars. According to a grand jury indictment released Wednesday, the nine officers had routinely submitted false pay overtime slips claiming overtime pay for hours they did not work, totaling some $200,000 in fraudulent claims since 2016. The indictment alleges that supervisors were aware of the scheme and participated along with subordinates.
The U.S. Attorney's office released a statement on the indictments Wednesday morning but did not hold a press conference.
"It shows that there are two tiers of criminal legal system," Rollins said. "And what I'm saying is I just want uniformity."
Rollins also called the timing of the indictments "problematic for law enforcement," as they are taking place at a time when mistrust of law enforcement and calls to defund the police are at an all-time high around the country after the killings of several Black men and women in recent months at the hands of police. She said the revelation that all of the defendents worked in the Evidence Management Unit also calls into question the results of any cases they worked on. She called Wednesday a "sad day for law enforcement."
"This is a slap in the face. It's a dishonor to the badge when people engage in this behavior. And we need to be held to a higher standard because we have the ability to take away people's liberty," she said. "We have to be beyond reproach."
Reporter Isaiah Thompson contributed to this article.