The OIG is reviewing the enforcement of civil rights laws by the Voting Section of the Department’s Civil Rights Division. The review is examining the types of cases brought by the Voting Section and any changes in the types of cases over time; any changes in Voting Section enforcement policies or procedures over time; whether the Voting Section has enforced the civil rights laws in a non-discriminatory manner; and whether any Voting Section employees have been harassed for participating in the investigation or prosecution of particular matters.
COPS awards grants to state, local, territory, and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire and train community policing professionals, acquire and deploy crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test policing strategies. During this reporting period, we audited an external COPS grant recipient. The results of that audit are summarized below:
- The OIG audited a $6 million COPS Technology Program grant awarded to Nassau County, New York (Nassau), to improve communication within and among state and local law enforcement agencies in Nassau County and Suffolk County, New York. In addition to the grant award, Nassau was to provide over $3.6 million local funding as a required local match, for a total program budget of almost $10 million. Our audit disclosed numerous internal control deficiencies related to Nassau’s grant administration that resulted in overstated financial status reports, property management deficiencies, and unallowable and unsupported costs. We determined that over $5.9 million in grant funds for claimed contract-related expenditures were unallowable and unsupported. In addition, we determined that $3.1 million claimed in contract-related expenditures provided as the local match was unallowable and unsupported. We also revealed that Nassau significantly revised the scope of the project without receiving prior approval from COPS. The OIG made nine recommendations, including that COPS remedy unsupported and unallowable grant-funded expenditures, remedy unallowable local match expenditures, ensure that Nassau implements policies and procedures to adequately administer grant funding and enhance its internal controls, and ensure that equipment purchased with grant funding is identified and included in a property management system. COPS agreed with our recommendations.
The following is an example of a case handled by the OIG’s Investigation Division during this reporting period:
- In our March 2010 Semiannual Report to Congress we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office and the FBI that led to the arrest of the chief of police for the Law Enforcement Department of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and his office manager on grant fraud conspiracy charges. The investigation determined the chief of police conspired with his office manager to steal $242,230 in grant funds from COPS. The police chief allegedly used the grant funds to purchase items for his or his family’s personal use, such as vehicles, jet skis, and recreational activities. The office manager was not charged with receiving any funds for personal use, but pled guilty to conspiring to conceal the theft from COPS. During this reporting period, the former chief of police was sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment followed by 2 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $231,785 in restitution pursuant to his guilty plea to grant fraud conspiracy charges. The office manager was previously sentenced to 10 months’ home confinement followed by 3 years of probation.
Equitable Sharing Audits
Under the Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program, state and local law enforcement agencies receive equitable sharing assets when participating directly with the Department’s law enforcement components in joint investigations that lead to the seizure or forfeiture of cash and property. Equitable sharing revenues represent a share of the proceeds from the forfeiture of assets seized in the course of certain criminal investigations.
During this reporting period, the OIG examined the use of equitable sharing revenues by the Doraville Police Department (Police Department) in Doraville, Georgia. The Police Department received $1,755,825 in equitable sharing revenues for FYs 2008 through 2010 to support law enforcement operations. Our audit found that the Police Department generally complied with the agreement and certification requirements, equitable sharing guidelines regarding accounting for equitable sharing receipts, and use of equitably shared property and funds. We recommended that the Criminal Division ensure that the Police Department comply with program policies and procedures for travel-related expenditures.
The Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program
The Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT), and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) provide training and technical assistance to foreign countries’ prosecutors, judicial personnel, and law enforcement personnel. Our audit is reviewing the programs’ controls and practices relating to funding, training, security, personnel, and property, as well as the programs’ coordination with other U.S. agencies and foreign components.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (known as CERCLA or Superfund), which was expanded by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, established the Superfund program to clean up the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites. CERCLA seeks to ensure that individuals or organizations responsible for the improper disposal of hazardous waste bear the costs for their actions. The OIG is reviewing FY 2009 and 2010 Superfund activities relating to the costs incurred by the Environment and Natural Resources Division in litigating Superfund cases. The audit will determine whether the Division provided an equitable distribution of total labor costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs to Superfund cases during FYs 2009 and 2010.
The OIG is examining the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) efforts to manage the pending caseload in its immigration courts. This includes analyzing characteristics of the caseload, such as case types and case ages, along with evaluating case processing methodology. The OIG will also report on EOIR’s implementation of reform measures designed to improve the performance of immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The OIG is examining the Office of the Pardon Attorney’s procedures for processing clemency petitions.
The following are examples of cases that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Boston Area Office led to the arrest of a former legal assistant at the USAO for the District of Vermont based on an indictment charging obstruction of justice and making false statements. The investigation determined that while she was employed as a legal assistant, she provided USAO case information, including the identities of grand jury witnesses, to the target of a DEA case being prosecuted in the District of Vermont. As a result of the former legal assistant’s unauthorized disclosure, a grand jury witness was threatened in connection with the witness’ expected testimony in the case.
- An investigation by the OIG’s New Jersey Area Office resulted in a senior administrative employee for the USAO for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania repaying a retention bonus of $25,084. The investigation determined that the employee used her public office for her own private gain by directing a subordinate to notify EOUSA to continue her retention incentive award for pay year 2009. As part of a settlement agreement with EOUSA, the employee agreed to pay restitution in the amount of the retention bonus and retire from government service. The case was declined for prosecution.
- As a result of an investigation by the OIG’s Boston Area Office, EOUSA suspended an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in the District of Rhode Island for 14-days after he was charged with administrative misconduct including misuse of his position and failure to report arrests. The investigation determined that the AUSA, who was arrested in Rhode Island and South Carolina on separate alcohol-related charges, misused his official title during both arrest incidents in violation of the standards of ethical conduct for federal employees, and that he also violated Department policy by failing to report his arrest in South Carolina.
The OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country for the development of programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. OVW recipients include state and local governments, universities, non-profit agencies, and for-profit agencies. During this reporting period, the OIG conducted two audits of OVW grant recipients. The results of an OVW grant recipient audit are summarized below:
- The OIG reviewed a Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Assistance Program grant of nearly $1.5 million to the Arizona Association of Community Health Centers (AACHC). Our audit found the AACHC to generally be in compliance with the grant requirements we tested and that the AACHC conducted grant reporting in a timely manner. However, financial status reports were not always accurate and improvements were needed to ensure accurate progress reports. We also identified $24,336 in unallowable subrecipient costs and $1,221 in unsupported payroll and fringe costs. Our recommendations included ensuring that the AACHC implement policies to enhance the submission of accurate grant reports, the review of subrecipients’ timesheets, and the submission of subrecipients’ annual audit reports to AACHC officials. The OVW is coordinating with the AACHC to remedy the unallowable and unsupported costs and improve the program’s financial and administrative management.