Corrections lieutenant on trial in OT scheme

 

 

WEST PALM BEACH — Not waiving his right to a speedy trial, Palm Beach County sheriff’s corrections Lt. Darrin McCray faced a jury Thursday following his arrest about six months ago on a charge of organized scheme to defraud and 10 counts of official misconduct for allegedly falsifying records.

Sheriff’s investigators say McCray and a group of other corrections officers rigged coveted hospital duty overtime shifts, assigning themselves or their friends and denying lower-ranking deputies the opportunity. The investigation was extensive, with one detective testifying Thursday that about 11,500 pages of records were examined.

Paul Zacks, a chief assistant state attorney, told jurors in a brief opening statement that the mounds of evidence prove a simple case — that McCray abused his authority to line his pockets. Zacks told jurors that McCray snatched up available slots, denying lower-ranking deputies.

“When they got on the computer, everything was blocked,” Zacks said, telling jurors they will hear from those deputies at the trial.

Defense attorney John Howe told jurors they would hear no evidence that McCray was paid for a shift he didn’t work.

Howe called the case against McCray a “mirage” — and a civil matter, not a criminal one.

“At the end you are going to be confused and you are going to wonder where the crime is,” Howe told jurors.

Everything McCray did was in line with office policies, Howe said, assigning people to shifts and picking up ones for himself.

He asked why McCray is on trial before answering his own question. The charges against McCray made Sheriff Ric Bradshaw look good in an election year, he said, and also explained to county commissioners that hospital duty overtime costs were so high because shifts were going to higher-paid officers.

“This was used as a basis to approve the sheriff’s budget with the county commission,” Howe said.

The trial is expected to continue through next week.

In testimony Thursday, it came out that McCray signed himself up for 260 overtime shifts but worked just 14 of them. A few jurors promptly wrote notes on their pads.

“The meat and potatoes is not how many shifts he worked,” Detective Wayne Smith testified. “The question is how he obtained those shifts and it was by manipulating the computer system and changing records.”

McCray is currently on unpaid administrative leave. He faces possible loss of his law enforcement license and pension if convicted.

source

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