Their overtime comes from seizures and forfeiture, he said.
Chief in spotlight
In addition to questioning Bal Harbours overtime, the government says the chief may have made unauthorized checks of national criminal databases; improperly influenced arrests and prosecutions; and received gifts from people who benefited from his position.
The departments overtime statistics also raised eyebrows at the Drug Enforcement Administration, an investigative partner, where an agent expressed astonishment at the hours cops were submitting.
From a May 2011 email to Bal Harbour Capt. Greg Roye: Good thing you and Vargas dont have to justify 4,200 hours!! COME ON MAN.
The DEA agent who sent the email declined to comment.
When asked by federal investigators why he claimed so many hours, Roye, who is exempt from overtime but supervises cops who are eligible to collect it, answered that he thought he was allowed to list a running total of hours spent on all operations, and not just the hours specific to a single case or seizure.
Richard Crock, a retired supervisory agent for the DEA, said his agents worked many cases with Bal Harbour police that led to significant enforcement results in the Atlanta area.
He declined to specify, but said: Youre going to find these types of cases require a lot of latitude for the personnel to work when they need to work.
Bryan Vila, a retired Los Angeles police officer and now a criminal justice professor at the Washington State University Spokane, agreed, saying: People working dope investigations often work substantially more than 1,000 hours of overtime a year.
Members of Bal Harbours VIN unit each logged hundreds of hours of overtime a year, and provided little in the way of explanation.
Hundreds of forms filled out and signed by six members of the elite unit Alejandro Alvarez, Paul Deitado, Paul Eppler, Hector Gonzalez, Edwin Vargas and Jack Young list only the date, number of overtime hours worked, and, in a space reserved for remarks, the acronym VIN.
The six officers soaked up nearly half of the $608,000 spent on overtime in 2012 by the department, which has 29 sworn officers and eight civilian staff.
It was not an aberration. Since 2009, the same six officers raked in more than $1.1 million collectively in overtime more than half of the $2.1 million spent overall by the department during the same period.
A clue to the work performed by Bal Harbour police on such cases can be gleaned from the applications they submitted to receive shares of the seized cash.
Nashville to L.A.
The application form, called a DAG-71, includes questions about the intended law enforcement use for the requested funds, and the level of assistance provided to the operation by the requesting agency.
Many of the forms state that Bal Harbour officers partnered with federal agents on cash pickups, stakeouts and arrests in places ranging from Nashville to Chicago to New York to Los Angeles.
Bal Harbour police officers provided background names, phone numbers and other leads to federal agencies, such as the DEA. And they served search warrants, and provided manpower for operations, according to the brief DAG-71 narratives.
But the forms do not indicate how many or which VIN unit officers worked the cases, or whether they earned overtime.