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A Baltimore school police officer and longtime high school football coach was arrested Friday and charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $215,000 in overtime pay, according to federal law enforcement officials.
The arrest came after a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Lawrence Smith, 49, who started working as a Baltimore school police officer in 2005. He was promoted to detective overseeing the agency’s overtime unit in 2016, according to a news release from prosecutors announcing the charges.
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Smith’s case wasn’t yet listed in online court records, and it wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
Prosecutors say Smith used his position to assign himself overtime shifts that he didn’t actually work. Instead, he was “at home, running personal errands, at other locations socializing, coaching football, and out of state on vacation,” the release states.
A Baltimore school police officer has been arrested in connection with a six-figure overtime fraud scheme. (Fox News)
Smith committed much of the fraud during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was authorized to receive overtime pay to provide security for coronavirus testing sites and other similar locations, according to prosecutors.
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Prosecutors allege Smith also tried to avoid paying federal income taxes and lied on a tax return. He’s charged with wire fraud, tax evasion and filing a false tax return.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Baltimore City Public Schools officials said they cooperated with the federal investigation and have already taken action to boost oversight of overtime assignments and policies. They said Smith has been placed on leave.
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“The charges against Lawrence Smith — including attempts to defraud City Schools through false reporting — are unacceptable,” the statement said. “Such actions, if true, erode the trust between the public and the City Schools employees who follow the rules and serve our community daily.”