City Hall employee arrested for alleged $11,400 overtime pay grift
The employee, who turned herself in to NHPD last Friday, now has a $5,000 court bond.
Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer
A 12-year veteran city employee was arrested on April 14 for falsifying timesheets and stealing $11,400 in her capacity as Building Department executive administrative assistant.
Mayor Justin Elicker, New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson and Chief Administrative Officer Regina Rush-Kittle announced the police arrest warrant one week after it was issued. The warrant was issued on April 6 against the employee for a one felony count of first-degree larceny.
“Unfortunately, like in every workplace, there are some individuals who fail to meet their professional responsibilities and expectations that we have for them,” Elicker said at the press conference announcing the arrest warrant. “That is true in city government as well.”
When the press conference occurred on Friday, the employee, 57-year-old New Havener Dennice Pair, had not been located. The press conference was called to encourage the employee to turn herself into the NHPD.
At 4:39 p.m. that same day, NHPD Spokesperson Rose Dell sent out a press release stating that the employee had turned themself into the NHPD. The release stated that a court bond was set for $5000.
“On December 5, 2022, NHPD was informed that an employee had allegedly improperly and fraudulently entered unauthorized overtime for herself into the City payroll system,” Dell wrote to the News.
A criminal investigation conducted by NHPD revealed that Pair collected over $11,485.39 in overtime pay in the first four months of the fiscal year — July through October 2022.
The city’s accountants took note, identifying a disproportionate amount of overtime being paid to Pair. According to Elicker, Pair was then placed on administrative leave in November, leading to a police investigation and the issuing of an arrest warrant.
Elicker explained that the grift was possible due to a previous timesheet system where each city employee would fill their own timesheet before October. A department supervisor would sign off on those timesheets and pass them to a point person in the department, who would then input the information into a municipal employee accounting system.
In this case, the Building Department’s point person, Pair, was responsible for the alleged grift. After the supervisor would sign off on the timesheets, the employee would allegedly increase their own overtime before entering the information into the system.
Last October, Elicker told the News, the city’s Budget Office placed strict parameters on overtime oversight which included breaking down overtime amounts for review by both departments and individual employees.
After this new process was instituted, the budget office identified the grift. City administrators will now also be required to oversee overtime filings and confirm records after they have been entered into the payroll system, according to Elicker.
Prior to moving to the Building Department in 2013, Pair worked for the Transportation Department. Over their 12 years of employment with the city, she made $145,000 in overtime, which Elicker believes may have also been fraudulently earned.
Elicker’s opponents in the upcoming mayoral race this November have used the arrest to criticize the current administration.
“This is just the latest incident that calls into question the administration’s managerial competence,” candidate Liam Brennan told the News. “From schools to parks, the police department to the Civilian Review Board, the city is in need of new leadership.”
Candidate Tom Goldenberg told the News that this instance was another example of “Mayor Elicker failing to live up to his promise of a well-run city hall.”
Goldenberg added that the city has not had a confirmed city controller since March of 2020. The city controller in the Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing the City’s funds and account, reporting directly to the Mayor.
“When this same incident happened in Mayor Harp’s administration, Justin Elicker told the city to vote her out of office,” Goldenberg told the News.
Former city police sergeant and Beaver Hills alder Shafiq Abdussabur told the News that the alleged theft represents “yet another testament to a poorly run, top-down government at City Hall.”
Responding to jabs from his opponents, Elicker told the News that his administration is “working to hold people accountable with new financial controls.”
“It’s easy to talk and throw rocks from the outside,” Elicker said. “It’s another thing to take action.”
NHPD is located at 1 Union Ave.