IG: At Least 7,868 Complaints of DHS 'Employee Criminal Misconduct' in FY 2013
by Edwin Mora 15 Dec 2013, 8:46 PM PDT
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) received at least 7,868 complaints of DHS “employee criminal misconduct” in the first half of fiscal year 2013 alone.
This information is based off a DHS OIG report released December 11.
According to the report, entitled Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security, allegations of criminal misconduct include DHS employees being corrupted by drug traffickers.
“Investigations of departmental employees range throughout the [DHS] Components and are initiated in response to allegations of wrongdoing such as smuggling, bribery, child pornography, and theft of departmental funds or property,” highlighted the December report. “OIG is particularly concerned with the smuggling of people and goods across the Nation’s borders.”
“Smuggling continues to be a large-scale business and remains dominated by drug trafficking organizations that seek to systematically corrupt DHS employees to continue their schemes,” added the IG. “Within DHS, OIG has the primary authority for investigating allegations of criminal misconduct by DHS employees.”
“Thus far in FY 2013, we have received 7,868 complaints and have initiated 320 investigations. Also in FY 2013, we have had 76 cases accepted for prosecution and achieved 83 convictions and 41 personnel actions,” further stated the OIG in the report.
Those numbers are based off a previous OIG audit that covered the first half of FY 2013 (Oct. 1, 2012 to March 30, 2013), according to the report.
“In FY 2012, we received approximately 17,690 complaints [of employee misconduct] and opened 1,030 investigations,” also stated the December report. “In that same period, 132 of our cases were accepted for prosecution and we achieved 178 convictions and 106 personnel actions.”
The OIG report highlighted some employee misconduct cases involving the corruption of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency employees by drug traffickers. CBP is a component of DHS.
“We learned that a CBP employee was observed meeting with members of a known drug trafficking organization,” stated the IG. “Later, he made arrangements with individuals he believed to be smugglers and allowed a vehicle driven by an undercover agent to pass through a border patrol checkpoint without being inspected. He also met with a confidential informant and received an $8,000 cash bribe payment in an envelope.”
“After we arrested him, he resigned and pleaded guilty to one count of accepting a bribe,” added the OIG report.
“Similarly, we investigated a CBP employee who was accepting bribes to allow narcotics through his inspection lane,” further stated the document. “We had an agent pose as a narcotics smuggler and pay the employee a series of bribes in exchange for allowing what he believed to be illegal narcotics to enter the United States. He was found guilty of conspiracy and bribery.”
The OIG also highlighted an employee incident involving child pornography.
“This year, a [U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services] employee pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, and was sentenced to 37 months incarceration and 120 months of supervised release,” mentioned the report.
“ In 2010, the employee seemingly inadvertently provided another employee with a USB thumb drive containing child pornography, and a search of his residence yielded additional images on his home computers,” further stated the OIG.
Furthermore, the OIG also mentioned a case involving theft of government property and sexual harassment.
“Additionally, we investigated and arrested a recently retired, former [U.S. Coast Guard] employee who had stolen government-owned electrical equipment valued at approximately $120,000 and sold it on eBay,” stated the report. “After his arrest, he pleaded guilty of two counts of mail fraud and was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day incarceration followed by 24 months of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $127,600 in restitution.”
“We engaged in a joint investigation with a local sheriff’s department of a Border Patrol Agent who made a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by a woman in a remote location and sexually assaulted her,” continued the OIG. “Following the investigation, the agent resigned and was sentenced to 96 months in State prison.”
According to testimony before a House panel by then-Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards, misconduct cases handled by the DHS IG are split into four categories: 1) corruption involving bribery, disclosure of classified information, espionage and smuggling, among other things; 2) violations of civil rights and liberties by employees; 3) defrauding DHS programs and financial systems; 4) miscellaneous, including those involving child pornography, false statements, and “contact with foreign governments/nationals” among other violations that “may not be criminal in nature.”
Edwards explained that in the context of OIG’s investigative work, a DHS "employee" includes contractors, interns, Coast Guard personnel, and “employees detailed to DHS from other Federal agencies.”
The December 2013 report did not break down the 7,868 complaints of DHS employee misconduct by category.
Edwards, now deputy DHS IG, noted in a December 9 letter attached to the report, “CBP has made significant advancements in battling corruption and misconduct internally. CBP conducts background investigations and polygraph examinations of all applicants for law enforcement positions as a way to detect possible issues before an applicant becomes an employee.
DHS currently employs about 240,000 individuals.