Audit finds Suffolk park policeman overpaid

A Suffolk park police lieutenant was overpaid $59,314 for overtime he could not prove he earned and differential for nights he never worked, according to an audit by county Comptroller Joseph Sawicki.

The audit found that Scott Gray, 55, an $87,280-a-year park policeman who retired in July after 27 years on the job, received the overpayments over his last seven years. The audit also reviewed two other park police officials who retired this summer, and found they were paid properly.

The audit was part of an ongoing comptroller's review of departmental payroll practices.

Patrick Boyles, head of the park police unit of the deputy sheriff's union, said a grievance has been filed on Gray's behalf.

"There was absolutely nothing intentional on his part," Boyles said. He said the county has never printed the parks police contract, making it difficult for officers to track pay rates. Gray did not return calls for comment.

Boyles called the night differential a "payroll error" that was never corrected after Gray was promoted from sergeant, a post in which he worked an overnight shift. Boyles also said there were no procedures for determining how the overtime stipend was to be administered, and that payroll officials had told Gray he did not have to keep records.

"We're finding issues like these that cannot be explained by management or the employee," Sawicki said. "But it certainly seems both parties are equally at fault. My job is to get the money back for the taxpayers. Our probe continues."

Christina Capobianco, chief deputy comptroller, said Sawicki will send a letter to Gray asking him to meet with the office and set up a repayment plan for the $59,314 within 30 days.

The county has not paid Gray $51,700 in separation pay because it is under review.

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