The 129th Training Troop of the Connecticut State Police Training Academy graduated with 83 members in 2020, but subsequent classes have been smaller due to recruiting challenges. Yehyun Kim /

Original reporting by Jaden Edison, Dave Altimari and Andrew Brown. Compiled by Gabby DeBenedictis.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of CT Mirror’s Spanish-language news coverage developed in partnership with Identidad Latina Multimedia.

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A report released on June 28 revealed that Connecticut State Police troopers may have falsified tens of thousands of traffic stop records submitted to the state’s racial profiling data reporting program, potentially skewing the numbers to reflect more infractions for white drivers and fewer for Black and Hispanic motorists.

The revelations have prompted a legislative hearing, a federal investigation and a lawsuit.

Here’s what to know.

The report stemmed from an investigation that found hundreds of falsified tickets.

An investigation last year by Hearst Connecticut Media Group revealed that in 2018 four state troopers had fabricated hundreds of traffic stop tickets for better assignments, pay increases, promotions and specialty vehicles. 

Hearst’s reporting prompted the Connecticut Racial Profiling Project, which collects data detailing the race and ethnicity of people who are pulled over by police in the state, to conduct a comprehensive audit months later.

Researchers were unable to corroborate nearly 26,000 traffic stops.

Auditors reviewed more than 800,000 infractions submitted by 1,301 troopers, stretching from 2014 to 2021. The inquiry showed that the overreporting and underreporting of traffic infractions went far beyond the four troopers first identified by internal affairs investigations and subsequent reporting.

The researchers were unable to corroborate 25,966 stops submitted to the racial profiling database while indicating that the number of falsified records could possibly exceed 58,000.

Multiple types of issues were found in the records.

A falsified record was one that did not reflect a real traffic stop event.

An overreported infraction referred to records identified in the state’s racial profiling system but not in the court system. Underreported records were those found in the courts but not in the profiling data. 

No Connecticut resident received a fake ticket.

Rather, State Police Colonel Stavros Mellekas said, troopers and constables were making up traffic stops that didn’t happen and making up demographic information for the profiling system.

Falsified data would likely downplay the extent of racial disparities in traffic stop numbers.

Overreported traffic infractions by state troopers were more likely to involve white-non Hispanic drivers while the underreported violations were more likely to include Black or Hispanic motorists, the report states.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the scandal.

After the audit’s release, Connecticut’s Office of the Chief State’s Attorney said it was launching an investigation into “the information received recently through the academic report.”

But in early August, Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin said he relinquished control of that criminal investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Griffin said the DOJ asked the state in early July to halt its own investigation so the feds could take over.

The state had opened a criminal investigation into troopers Timothy Bentley, Noah Gouveia, Kevin Moore and Daniel Richter, the subjects of the initial Hearst Connecticut investigation, after Hearst revealed they had fabricated hundreds of traffic stop tickets. The officers have not been charged, and the probe into them was folded into the larger investigation.

Bentley, Gouveia, Moore and Richter were subject to internal affairs investigations last year but had otherwise evaded public scrutiny. Moore and Richter received 10-day and two-day suspensions, respectively, after the investigation, while Bentley and Gouveia retired. Richter then retired in 2021. The three retired troopers still receive monthly pensions as of last month, while Moore is still an active employee.

A former federal prosecutor is investigating as well.

In July Gov. Ned Lamont said he was handpicking former federal prosecutor Deirdre Daly to head an independent investigation into “how and why the misconduct occurred, why it went undetected for so long and what reforms should be implemented to ensure that such misconduct does not reoccur.”

The Obama-era prosecutor is also tasked with identifying “whether changes to the IT platforms or training materials could prevent mistaken entries.”

The names of the accused officers have not been released, pending a lawsuit.

A lawsuit was initiated by the Connecticut State Police Union in order to prevent the state from disclosing the names and badge numbers of more than a hundred state troopers, which have been requested by multiple media outlets through the Freedom of Information Act.

The union’s lawyers argued the release of the identities of the 130 troopers who were noted in the audit would open those individuals up to “unwarranted scrutiny” and “false allegations” without the benefit of a full investigation.

They also claimed the release of the information would damage the troopers’ reputations and risk the safety of themselves and their families.

The CT Mirror and The Day filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit in order to assert the public’s right to access governmental information under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. A judge granted the motion.

Dozens of accused officers have been exonerated, state police union officials said.

State police union officials said on Aug. 23 that 20% of the 130 state troopers accused of either submitting false ticket data or underreporting their numbers to a racial profiling database have been exonerated since the release of the audit a few weeks ago.

Andrew Matthews, the union’s executive director, legal counsel and former president, said 26 troopers had been exonerated. State police officials have not confirmed the number.

Meanwhile, Matthews denied underreporting infractions.

An analysis of the data used by the auditors, which CT Mirror obtained through an open records request, shows that Matthews had the second-most underreported infractions out of the 1,301 state troopers examined from 2014 to 2021.

Matthews’ badge number is associated in the data with 224 infractions that were not reported to the profiling database, an apparent violation of state law. Fifty percent of his infractions were flagged as underreported. 

He also may have overreported 27 traffic tickets, the data shows, possibly a criminal act if an investigation finds that he did so with intent. 

In both an informational legislative hearing and an interview with CT Mirror, Matthews denied that he ever falsified information.

Matthews said the underreporting, which he doesn’t think “is the real issue,” likely stems from him having to drive an outdated work vehicle that didn’t have electronic reporting equipment. Therefore, he hand-wrote many of his tickets, he said, and communicated the required information to dispatchers. He said it’s possible dispatchers didn’t enter his information as required. He thinks auditors failed to account for the latter in their report.

“I did nothing wrong, absolutely nothing wrong, acted with the utmost integrity and professionalism and never falsified any records. That’s how silly this whole story is,” Matthews said, adding that he isn’t suggesting that no troopers were engaged in misconduct. “But they have the right to due process. And if it’s determined that there are troopers that did … then they should be held accountable.”

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