Harvey police officers' time cards show they worked at multiple places at once

Former Harvey cop Andre Sneed believes he was fired from the department
after he raised concerns about payroll issues. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune)

Authorities say two high-ranking Harvey police officers have been reassigned amid a Tribune investigation that found records showing them working for two communities during the same hours and getting paid by both.

The veteran officers each held full-time positions with the south suburban department while working security details that paid $19 to $25 an hour for two school districts, according to public records obtained by the newspaper.

The Tribune review found scores of unexplained inconsistencies in which the officers were reported on duty in Harvey during the same hours they were also getting paid to watch over school halls and sporting events miles away.

The records raise questions about why their bosses took so long to investigate. Harvey officials were tipped off to possible payroll discrepancies in 2011, yet they waited to take key steps to investigate the allegations until after the Tribune requested copies of time cards this summer.

The time cards for one of the officers, Cmdr. Roy Wells, 52, suggest he may have overlapped at least 200 hours since 2008, the equivalent of five full-time weeks of work. For example, on one day, he was paid for working 22 hours for the three agencies during one 24-hour period, the time cards show.

The other officer — Steven Porter, 52 — was Harvey's senior police investigator in internal affairs, a role that made him one of the agency's top ethics watchdogs. His time cards showed overlap of at least 120 hours since 2008, the equivalent of three full-time weeks.

Wells and Porter told the Tribune they were honest about their hours and suspect some of their time cards have mistaken entries.

Wells was paid $75,000 a year by Harvey and collected as much as $28,000 a year from the districts. He said there was "a very good explanation" for the discrepancies and that he expects to be vindicated.

Porter was paid $67,000 a year by Harvey and collected as much as $12,000 a year from the districts. Porter said he "acted appropriately" at all times.

"Look, I don't cheat on my job," Porter said. "I'm 28 years on the job. No way I'm going to throw away my career."

Harvey police said they've contacted the Cook County State's Attorney's office about the suspected payroll irregularities. Prosecutors declined to comment.

Three places at once?

The Tribune obtained pay and timekeeping records for Wells and Porter from Harvey police, Rich Township High School District 227 and Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233 through the open records act.

To allow for the possibility of small differences between the various employers' time clocks, the newspaper's review focused on dates in which someone clocked into a second job at least a half-hour before he clocked out of the first.

The analysis of the time cards from 2008 through May found that:

•For Wells, there were at least 92 days when he was listed as working in two places at once. The average overlap was more than two hours each day. And there was an overlap in nearly one-third of all days he worked at a school.

On one day in early 2009, Wells' time cards suggest he was in three places at one time. Records show he worked from 8:25 a.m. to 6:39 p.m. in Harvey, but started shifts at both high schools at 4:30 p.m.

The time cards said he worked until 6:30 p.m. at Rich Township, and until 10 p.m. at Homewood-Flossmoor.

•For Porter, there were at least 101 days when time cards indicated he was in two places at once, with an average overlap of more than an hour. And there was an overlap in more than one-third of all days he worked at a school.

On a Tuesday in March 2010, time cards indicated he worked a full day at Harvey, clocking out at 5 p.m., but not before he started a 4 p.m. shift at Homewood-Flossmoor. That shift is shown lasting until 10 p.m., but he also started another shift at Rich Township at 6 p.m., which also lasted until 10 p.m., according to records.