BOSTON - The Massachusetts State Police say they're backing off from efforts to destroy years of audit and payroll records.
State police last month sent the secretary of state's office a request to allow for the destruction of 12 boxes of records - including detail assignment and roster assignment payroll records - covering the years 2009-2012 for Troop F based at Logan Airport.
It was the most recent of several requests to destroy years of older payroll records.
A state police spokesman said the records fell within state guidelines for destruction and weren't part of any current outside investigation or audit. Police officials say they now plan to retain the records, citing ongoing probes into overtime abuse within the department.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he was glad the records weren't destroyed.
State and federal investigators have charged troopers as part of the investigations.
WBUR reported Wednesday the state police sought to destroy more than 160 boxes of documents tracking payroll, detail assignments, attendance and personnel records, some dating back as far as 26 years in the months since the overtime investigations began.
There was nothing nefarious about the requests because of the age of the documents, state police spokesman Dave Procopio said, but the agency has decided to back off.
"None of the records in question have been destroyed and in light of current ongoing investigations pertaining to similar records, the state police will retain past payroll records until further notice," Procopio said in a statement.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez said Wednesday that the agency was "attempting to cover-up widespread corruption and fraud relating to payroll and overtime payment."
He said Baker has yet to hold anyone accountable for overtime abuses.
"Charlie Baker needs to take responsibility for the scandals at his Massachusetts State Police. Today's revelations of an attempted cover-up leave many unanswered questions for the public," Gonzalez said in a statement, calling for an investigation by the state inspector general.
Baker said Wednesday that the administration has responded, including disbanding Troop E, which had been linked to the alleged fraud.
"I think what the state police did was a mistake and I'm glad those records didn't get destroyed, but in the normal course, those are the kinds of records which under normal circumstances typically would be sent to a place like that," Baker told reporters.
He also expressed support for State Police Cmdr. Colonel Kerry Gilpin.
"I have no doubt about what side of this issue the colonel is on," Baker said. "The colonel is the one who collected data on 46 troopers who apparently and allegedly violated their oath of office and the overtime and personnel practice of the state police," and is the one who gave the data on those 46 troopers to the U.S. attorney and attorney general for criminal investigation.
Gonzalez has criticized Gilpin for what he called her "failure to promptly drive much needed reforms at the agency" and to investigate irregularities in overtime usage during her current and earlier roles in the agency, which he said "contributed to the culture of corruption at the agency and compromises the colonel's credibility in addressing it."
Baker said the administration would cooperate if the inspector general chooses to investigate.
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