First Massachusetts state trooper sentenced in overtime scandal

The first state trooper to be sentenced in the major overtime fraud scandal got just one day in prison — time served — after admitting he stole more than $7,000, though prosecutors pushed for three months behind bars.

Eric Chin, 46, of Hanover will have to pay back the $7,125 he admitted to stealing through claiming overtime hours he didn’t actually work. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns on Monday sentenced Chin to a single day in jail — which the judge deemed he’d already served before his arraignment — with three months of house arrest and nine months of supervised release.

Chin, who has been fired by the state police, pleaded guilty in December to one count of embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling had sought three months behind bars for Chin followed by a year of supervised release. In a sentencing memorandum, Lelling wrote, “Few crimes strike at the core of the justice system more than those involving law enforcement officers who choose to break, rather than uphold, the law. Though at its heart a crime motivated by simple greed, it is far more troubling than the run of the mill fraud cases in this court.”

Lelling continued, “This crime, and the abusive culture it served to perpetuate, reflect a betrayal of the trust and power granted to those who serve in law enforcement.”

In 2016, Chin was paid $302,400, which included approximately $131,653 in overtime pay.

Chin couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Our internal investigation into Eric Chin was the starting point for the eventual wider audits of discretionary overtime pay,” the state police said in a statement. “Those audits resulted in our referring 46 individuals, to date, to state and federal prosecutors for review of potential criminal activity.”

Chin had been assigned to the state police’s now-infamous Troop E, which patrolled the Massachusetts Turnpike. The investigation into Chin eventually mushroomed into a huge scandal that rocked the state police, resulting in eight troopers being hauled into federal court on charges of overtime abuse. The other seven have all pleaded guilty and await their own sentencing hearings.

Gov. Charlie Baker disbanded Troop E last year after investigations began to point to widespread wrongdoing.