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Probe into alleged Detroit police overtime abuse widens

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Detroit Police Internal Affairs probe into reported overtime abuse in the Homicide Section has been expanded into other units, police officials confirm, and into allegations a deputy chief disparaged a lieutenant after he claimed the higher-ranking official's step-brother was falsifying documents.

The internal investigation was launched last month after allegations surfaced of overtime abuse in the Homicide Unit, according to information obtained by The Detroit News and confirmed by Police Chief James Craig.

The charges included officers allegedly filing for overtime they didn't work and writing up false subpoenas to appear in court so they could collect extra pay.

The probe recently expanded into other units, Craig confirmed, including Sex Crimes and the former Narcotics Section, which was disbanded this summer amid another internal probe of alleged wrongdoing.

Added to the probe is an allegation Deputy Chief David LeValley sent an email to his superiors besmirching the reputation of Homicide Lt. Joseph Tiseo, who reported LeValley's step-brother, Detective Brandon Smith, for allegedly lying about the hours he worked.

Tiseo wrote a letter to Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt last month claiming LeValley "documented negative, untrue and disparaging remarks about me. This incident has created some hostility toward me by the offending members and has caused me to fear that this incident may have a negative impact on my career.

"I fully understand Deputy Chief LeValley's desire to protect his step-brother. However, his conduct in doing so violates numerous codes of conduct provisions in the Detroit Police Department's manual ... and in my opinion constitutes obstruction of justice."

LeValley denied the allegations, but declined further comment.

Tiseo, contacted by The News, also declined to elaborate on his Nov. 2 letter.

"All I can say is that it's an active investigation, so I can't comment much beyond that," Craig said. "We are aware of all the allegations, and we have widened the investigation into other units. (LeValley's alleged email, and Tiseo's letter) are just one part of this."

The latest allegations follow a lawsuit by Homicide Sgt. Joseph Abdella, who claimed in a lawsuit he was transferred out of the Homicide Section for reporting overtime fraud. Department officials say he was moved because he allegedly called a female subordinate a derogatory name.

Abdella supervised a joint task force of investigators responsible for cases involving multiple deaths, police-involved shootings and narcotics-related killings. The unit consisted of six Detroit police officers and 10 Michigan State Police troopers, according to the lawsuit filed last month in Wayne Circuit Court, which seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

After being assigned to the task force in November 2013, "Abdella corrected a pattern and practice of time-clock fraud and overtime fraud he observed among the Detroit police officers assigned to his team," the lawsuit said.

In August, Craig reassigned Abdella to the Mounted Unit. The chief also ordered an Internal Affairs investigation into the alleged racial epithet used against the female employee.

ghunter@detroitnews.com(313) 222-2134