Durham officer fired in overtime scandal

STAFF WRITEROctober 15, 2009 

Taylor Robinson

— An officer who was fired Wednesday as a result of an overtime scandal is not going out without a fight.

"She plans to vehemently defend herself against any allegations of wrongdoing," said her attorney, James "Butch" Williams Jr.

Alesha Robinson-Taylor has been on administrative leave with pay since Sept. 30 when a city audit into her claims of overtime was released. She plans to file a grievance and "exhaust all of her administrative remedies," said Williams, who declined to comment further citing an ongoing state investigation.

Robinson-Taylor, 39, made $52,666 a year in regular pay as a desk officer who oversees towing, ABC permits and police off-duty work. She was allowed to collect overtime because her job does not permit her to take off-duty assignments. She claimed $62,583.13 in overtime between September 2008 and Aug. 31.

Durham Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr. said he initially thought the overtime, approved by Deputy Chief B.J. Council, had been earned. Robinson-Taylor was seen working and was sending work-related e-mail at all hours. But the audit found that she claimed hours while on leave, on vacation, and during holidays when she could not prove she had been working. The audit also found the work didn't need to be performed at all hours.

An anonymous e-mail message led City Manager Tom Bonfield to order an audit. The audit said, among other criticisms, that Lopez and Council didn't do enough to reduce Robinson-Taylor's overtime.

The police department has made a number of changes since, including having three people conduct the duties Robinson-Taylor once did and having assistant chiefs receive updated lists of officers who collect overtime pay.

The State Bureau of Investigation is continuing to look into the matter. Council is on personal leave until she retires Dec. 31.

stan.chambers@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2025

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