LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Dozens of current and former California Highway Patrol officers were schedule to appear in court on Thursday, facing accusations of overtime fraud.
The 54 officers from the CHP's East Los Angeles Area office have been charged by the California attorney general's office in an alleged multi-year overtime fraud scheme totaling more than $226,000.
Attorneys representing the accused officers say their clients are innocent and are hoping to get the case dismissed.
"The judge ordered today that the attorney general's office file their opposition to our motion to dismiss," attorney Tom Yu, who represents 16 of the officers, told ABC7. "We get to reply back to what the AG's office has to post."
A three-day hearing is set on the defense's challenge to the legal sufficiency of the complaints against the officers before their scheduled arraignment Oct. 21.
"Officers, when they work an 8-hour shift, sometimes they get off early, sometimes an hour early, two hours early," Yu said. "The contract says they are going to be paid for the 8 hours. Well, those two hours -- according to the Highway Patrol and the AG's office -- is fraud."
"There's a number of areas where CHP officers get credit for time where they are not paid," attorney Joe Weimortz, who represents 25 of the accused officers, said in an interview. "So the narrative that they got paid for time that they didn't work, well, that's a little simplistic because that doesn't mean they weren't entitled to the time."
Investigators allege the officers reported additional overtime hours when they were providing protection detail for Caltrans workers.
"There actually was a posted written standard operation procedure, which said that if they were released by Caltrans -- which is what a lot of this is about -- then they could go back to the office and be on standby," Weimortz said. "And so they're being challenged for that time that they were basically on standby waiting to be called back."
California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a statement in February when the officers were charged.
"These defendants disregarded the law through their alleged actions and did so without thought of how their conduct would impact the California Highway patrol or the community that trusted them to protect and serve," Bonta said.