Tuesday January 15, 2013

BURLINGTON (AP) -- A former Vermont State Police sergeant was taken into custody Monday to begin serving up to two years in prison after pleading guilty to charges he padded his timesheets. He must pay $202,000 in restitution, money that will be taken from his pension over a period of about six years.

James Deeghan entered the guilty pleas to two counts of false claims and two counts of neglect of duty during a change of plea hearing in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington.

Deeghan told the court he had been under "tremendous" financial pressures and that the fraud became routine for him. He said he acted alone and he apologized for his actions.

"I just hope people don't hold state police responsible for what I did," he said.

In court papers filed Friday afternoon, investigators said they had documented almost $213,000 in fraud by Deeghan. State police suspended Deeghan on July 9 and he resigned the next day after a colleague noticed discrepancies in his pay sheets.

In addition to padding his timesheet between 2008 and 2012, Deeghan was accused of writing 978 fake traffic tickets.

In court, Deeghan said he hoped people don't hold state police responsible for what he did.

The Burlington Free Press (http://bfpne.ws/13v6clh ) is reporting it will take about six years to repay the money.

Judge Brian Grearson called the 23-24 month sentence to be followed by probation, "a fair resolution."

"This is a sad day. This is a tragic day," Grearson said.