Report: Melbourne police officers suspended for violating payroll policy

By Rick Neale, Florida Today

File photo.

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Two Melbourne police officers received two-week suspensions without pay after an anonymous email triggered an internal investigation into alleged payroll record falsifications, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The investigation concluded that Lt. Steven Sadoff and Officer Brittney Skovsgard failed to be punctual and failed to complete work shifts during various dates between January and June 2017.

In May, both were suspended for 80 hours without pay, suspended from the take-home car program for six months, and deemed ineligible for promotional testing for two years. Sadoff was also demoted to sergeant and transferred to a different shift. These disciplinary actions were scheduled to take effect upon exhaustion of their appeal rights.

The investigation became public earlier this week when Brevard County Clerk of Courts Scott Ellis criticized the investigation at a City Council meeting.  

Skovsgard submitted her resignation, effective Friday, July 13. Sadoff is grieving his discipline, and his case is working its way through the grievance process. Police Chief David Gillespie declined an interview request, citing the grievance process.

The department's Kronos Workforce TeleStaff payroll system was implemented in August 2013 to document employee timekeeping, including overtime, compensatory time and leave time.

Investigators examined officers' shift starting and ending times that were entered in TeleStaff. They also studied GPS coordinates and data from laptops inside their police cruisers.

Two sergeants also received written reprimands for violating TeleStaff policy, while a detective and an officer were referred for counseling/retraining.

“One of the main purposes of TeleStaff is to accurately track individual work schedules. This includes weekly work schedules including overtime. Officers are responsible for tracking all changes to their regular work schedules and overtime entries," Gillespie wrote in a statement to FLORIDA TODAY.

"The impact of false or inaccurate entries becomes an integrity issue when employees are flexing their schedule so they are working different hours than recorded in TeleStaff," Gillespie stated.

"Additionally, when officers do not work their entire work day it can be construed as theft as well as administrative violations,” he stated.

The investigation was triggered by an anonymous email complaint in November to Gillespie, City Manager Mike McNees and Melbourne City Council members. The email alleged that some police officers were "falsifying their payroll records on a regular basis," and it listed the names of the six officers alongside computer-aided dispatch records from January to February 2017.

The following morning, McNees emailed council members: “A few weeks ago we had an officer resign while under investigation for some alleged activity similar to what’s been detailed in this email. Chief Gillespie has already been looking into whether there is evidence of other, similar activities and he will continue that process.”

Ellis questioned who was responsible for monitoring the officers' time.

“Who verifies daily hours and how do they do so? You have taken these officers to task for their time, was there no one responsible for monitoring their time or signing their time sheets?” Ellis wrote in a list of comments he distributed to city council members Tuesday during their regular meeting.

From the public comment podium, Ellis made a public records request for copies of time cards for all Melbourne Police Department employees from the past two pay periods, along with corresponding laptop check-in, check-out times and GPS coordinates for take-home vehicles.

"The investigations had no control group. There is no way to verify this algorithm that you're using to run the investigation. And you have no idea if this one particular squad is an anomaly or if all squads look the same," Ellis told council members.

Mayor Kathy Meehan requested that Ellis meet with Gillespie and McNees to discuss the matter.

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