Deputy’s overtime payments questioned

Chester County Auditor Margaret Reif has filed a personal surcharge of more than $67,000 against County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh for overtime payments paid to a sheriff’s deputy who lives with Welsh. The auditor raised similar questions of impropriety last year.

Sheriff Carolyn Welsh

Welsh’s only comment was: "For the second time in less than a year, the controller is making unfounded accusations, relying on numbers and information that she didn’t bother to verify. There was no abuse of overtime by anyone, and at the appropriate time, we will respond to each of her baseless allegations.”

Welsh has reportedly said that Reif’s allegations are politically motivated and that the figures have been misrepresented.

According to Reif’s report, Lt. Harry McKinney was paid $67,335 in overtime from January 2016 through December 2018. McKinney, as a lieutenant who heads up the sheriff’s K-9 unit, is exempt from overtime according to Reif. He and Welsh have lived together since at least 2003 and own an investment business together.

“Lt. McKinney has been the highest paid employee of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office in each of the last three years even though his duties make him exempt from overtime payment requirements,” Reif said in her report.

She also said McKinney and Welsh “knew or should have known Lt. McKinney was not permitted to claim overtime.”

Other statements in the report said there were 55 weeks in which McKinney worked less than 40 hours but was still paid overtime; 30 weeks in which he worked less than 20 hours per week but still received overtime pay and 19 weeks in which he didn’t work at all but got overtime pay. Some of the overtime was paid while McKinney was on vacation, the report went on to say.

“The overtime claims during this period include as much as 23 hours for a single day. Lt. McKinney’s time records show that he claimed and was paid for 10 hours of overtime, for a single day, in 47 of 52 weeks in 2017, with single day totals ranging from four to 15 hours of overtime in a single day in the remaining five weeks. That pattern continued in 2018 when Lt. McKinney claimed and was paid for 10 hours of overtime for a single day in 29 of 52 weeks, with one day each of 13 and 19 hours of overtime for a single day in two additional weeks. In another two weeks in 2018, Lt. McKinney’s time records show 2 days where 20 hours of overtime was claimed per day and paid for by the County of Chester. Sheriff Carolyn Welsh, a public official, used her authority to sign off on and authorize the payment of these overtime claims,” the report said.

Reif’s investigation began after the county controller’s office received an anonymous letter regarding excessive overtime. The report also says that McKinney is listed as an entry-level employee for payroll purposes, which would qualify him for overtime, but he has administrative duties as head of the K-9 unit which would exempt him from overtime, Reif said.

The auditor's report can be found here.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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One Response to “Deputy’s overtime payments questioned”

  1. Ulatowski1 says:

    Very surprised at the report and the lack of coverage in the major papers. Is the sheriff responding to the unnamed letter provided to the controller. I can tell you that the was someone on her staff. It is unclear to me- if this is a criminal matter- will someone from outside the county system look into this? The conflicts with a person who is associated with the Chester County is too great.

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