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Lamont hires former U.S. attorney to probe police ticket scandal

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(The Center Square) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has tapped a former federal prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation of allegations that state police may have issued hundreds of “fake” tickets.

Lamont said he has hired former U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly to investigate allegations outlined in a recent audit by a taxpayer-funded group that reviews police records to look for racial bias in law enforcement activities. Lamont said the inquiry seeks to determine “how and why the misconduct occurred” and why it went undetected for years.

“I have great faith in the overwhelming majority of our troopers,” the Democrat said in a statement. “To protect public confidence in them we must get to the bottom of this and learn how it happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from ever happening again.”

Lamont said Daly, an attorney at Finn Dixon and Herling LLP, and her team will interview state police troopers, constables and others who may have relevant information. He said the probe will likely take three to six months, depending on how many witnesses are interviewed by investigators.

The independent probe comes in response to a recent Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project audit, which found state police may have falsified more than 25,000 tickets between 2014 and 2021.

The state-funded group, which reviews police records for racial profiling trends, said another 32,500 records during those years showed “inaccuracies” in the citations that the group’s auditors believe may have been inappropriately issued to motorists.

The audit’s findings revealed “significant” numbers of fake and inaccurate tickets were submitted by at least one-quarter of the 1,301 troopers who wrote tickets during those years.

Lamont had initially tapped the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney to conduct the probe with the Connecticut State Police, but that was widely criticized for lacking independence.

Last year, a Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation uncovered internal records showing Connecticut state police investigators in 2018 discovered four troopers had entered more than 630 “fake” tickets into the state police computer system.

The troopers were disciplined internally but were allowed to remain on the job and the phony ticket scandal wasn’t publicly disclosed, the news outlet’s investigation revealed.

In a statement, State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas said he has issued an order to state troopers instructing them to cooperate with investigators “and come forth with relevant information.”

“The Connecticut State Police takes this matter very seriously and we have already instituted several reforms based on the recently released audit. We look forward to continuing that work,” Mellekas said. “We welcome this investigation and will cooperate fully.”

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