Pugh says she will increase funding for more agency audits, including police OT

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh plans to increase funding to audit city agencies.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh plans to increase funding for Comptroller Joan Pratt's office to pay for more audits of city agencies, including a "forensic" audit of police overtime.

"I need this done as quickly as possible," Pugh said Wednesday. "The Comptroller's Office is the best office to do this. I am going to add additional monies in the upcoming budget to the comptroller's office, so we can have more regular audits taking place of our various departments."

She did not specify how much funding would increase, but her spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, said the administration will release a budget soon.

Pugh announced she would seek an audit of Baltimore Police Department overtime after seven officers were indicted on federal racketeering charges — including allegations that they committed overtime fraud. The Police Department is on pace to spend $43 million on overtime this fiscal year, even though only $16 million is budgeted for overtime.

"We cannot afford $40 million in overtime," the mayor said. "We just can't afford it."

The mayor has pledged help the Baltimore school system close a $130 million budget gap. The city itself is dealing with a $20 million shortfall.

The federal indictment includes allegations that the officers claimed to be working overtime when they were not in Baltimore. The officers claimed overtime when they were in the vicinity of their homes in the surrounding counties, or even farther away.

In addition to overtime fraud, the officers are accused of shaking down citizens, filing false court paperwork and making fraudulent overtime claims, all while Justice Department investigators were scrutinizing the department for what they concluded were widespread civil rights violations.

The Police Department would have been audited within the next two years because, in November, voters mandated that city agencies be audited biannually. But Pugh wanted an audit of police overtime to happen sooner.

Last year, city officials struggled to complete voter-mandated audits that had to be done every four years. With the new mandate in place, Pugh said extra funding will be needed to complete those audits every two years.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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