Police sergeant gets jail term in insurance fraud scheme
Associated Press Saturday, December 03, 2016
PLYMOUTH, Mass. — A Massachusetts police sergeant has been sentenced to serve half a year in a county jail after he was convicted of lying about an on-duty accident and accepting insurance money for a bogus injury.
A jury convicted Hingham (HING'-um) Sgt. Kris Phillips on Thursday of filing false insurance claims and misleading a police investigation.
Authorities say the 20-year police veteran made false insurance claims after he said he was injured on duty in July 2015. Phillips said he was struck and injured by a car as a shopper backed out of a parking space.
An internal police review determined the story was false.
Phillips must also pay nearly $2,000 in restitution. He can no longer serve as a law enforcement officer.
Hingham cop will 'vigorously' contest fraud charges
Updated Jan 15, 2016 at 3:48 AM
Sgt. Kris Phillips was arraigned Thursday morning in Brockton Superior Court, a month after he was indicted by a grand jury for alleged insurance fraud. The indictment said Phillips faked an injury while on duty in July 2015. By Lane Lambert
The Patriot Ledger
BROCKTON, Mass. – For the second time in seven years, Hingham police Sgt. Kris Phillips stood in a courtroom and pleaded innocent.
The first time, in 2008, he was in Hingham District Court on charges – later dismissed – that he struck a town light plant worker in the groin.
This time, he was in Plymouth County Superior Court on Thursday being arraigned on insurance fraud charges.
Standing before Judge Cornelius Moriarty, Phillips gave a firm “not guilty” on all four counts he faces – two for insurance fraud and one each for perjury and witness intimidation.
The 52-year-old police veteran was indicted Dec. 16 by a Plymouth County grand jury on charges that he made false insurance claims after he said he was injured while on duty last July. He has been on administrative leave for months, since an internal police review concluded that his claim was fabricated.
Phillips was released with no bail, on his promise to return to court for a Feb. 29 pretrial conference and an April 13 pretrial hearing.
He made no comment before or after the arraignment, but his attorney, Elliott Sherman of Hingham, told The Patriot Ledger that Phillips “is going to defend (against) the charges vigorously.”
“He was doing what he was supposed to be doing,” Sherman said of Phillips’ patrol duty.
The case goes back to the night of July 17, when Phillips was on patrol at the Hingham Shipyard retail development off Route 3A.
Phillips said he was struck and injured by a car as a shopper backed out of a parking space. But during Phillips’ brief arraignment, Plymouth County prosecutor Russ Eonas said a passerby saw Phillips stand up, put his hand on the car and then fall down.
“He was crouching below a parked car,” Eonas told the judge.
Sherman countered that the incident was “more complicated than the Commonwealth is making it out to be.”
Before the arraignment, Sherman told The Patriot Ledger that it’s unusual for an insurance fraud case to start in Superior Court, rather than a district court.
Hingham police conducted their own investigation soon after the incident and determined that Phillips’ claim was fabricated. He was initially put on paid leave. Selectmen voted to suspend his pay last week.
While the Superior Court case gets underway, Phillips is also facing town action on an unrelated question of his possible role in a pair of anonymous letters sent to selectmen last April.
The letters attacked four finalists for police chief, among them then-Deputy Chief Glenn Olsson, who selectmen later hired. The letters contained work-related information about the finalists from the police department’s secure computer system, and a private investigator’s report about the letters identified Phillips.
Town employee Matthew Hersey later came forward as the letters’ author – he said he did so because Phillips was being unfairly implicated – but selectmen will soon be picking an independent hearing officer for non-criminal charges that Phillips may have been involved.
Phillips could be disciplined or fired if he is found responsible. He was a lieutenant when selectmen fired him in the wake of the 2008 assault case. In 2012 they rehired him as a sergeant.