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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General’s Office Concludes Review of Fraud Allegation Against Vergennes Police Chief

August 21, 2020

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced the completion of the investigation of alleged fraudulent conduct by Chief George Merkel of the Vergennes Police Department regarding overtime payments from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP). The Attorney General’s Office is declining to prosecute Chief Merkel for false reporting as there is no evidence to suggest that Chief Merkel acted with intent to defraud the GHSP. In reaching this decision, the Office reviewed all of the materials provided by the Vermont State Police (VSP), who conducted the investigation.

The allegation of false reporting is an allegation of criminal fraud. At the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council’s request, VSP investigated allegations of false reporting of overtime hours by Chief Merkel.

A two-year lookback of all overtime requests from all sources, including GHSP, claimed by Chief Merkel from June 1, 2018, through June of 2020, revealed discrepancies on three separate occasions for a total of 15 hours of overtime. The discrepancies appear to be clerical mistakes. The investigation revealed that, while there are some discrepancies with some GHSP Officer Activity and Time Reports submitted by Chief Merkel, there is no evidence that Chief Merkel had an intent to defraud the GHSP program. Any hour of overtime paid through GHSP corresponded with actual highway safety-related activity undertaken by Chief Merkel within the relevant timeframe.

Today’s announcement concludes all ongoing investigations regarding Chief Merkel conducted by the Attorney General’s Office.

Last modified: August 21, 2020