Inspection of the Violent Crime Task Forces
in the Southern District of New York
Report Number I-2000-03
At the request of the Director, Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), the Office of the Inspector General has completed a review of the Violent Crime Task Forces (VCTF) of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (USAO). The objectives of the inspection were to determine whether the VCTFs met their program objectives as identified in the task force proposals and approved reprogramming requests, whether the task forces expended funds for approved purposes, and whether program managers provided adequate oversight. The USAO received $1,195,000 to support four task forces: the USAO Asian Gang VCTF, the USAO Latin Kings VCTF, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Housing Authority VCTF, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) VCTFs.
Our review found that the USAO received approval to reprogram its VCTF funds for activities that were not consistent with the funding criteria established for the VCTF program. The USAO changed its focus in response to the ever-changing criminal activity of its district and decided to use the Asian Gang and Latin Kings VCTF funding for other crime fighting priorities. The accomplishments reported by DEA and the FBI were not the result of VCTF-funded activities. The following is a brief description of the activities for each VCTF:
- The USAO determined that it did not need to use the funds for an Asian Gang VCTF, and requested and received approval from the EOUSA review committee to use the funds to develop a computer network. Since the USAO created the Unified Asian Intelligence Database, which contained approximately 2,000 entries on Asian gang members, the USAO expanded this database beyond Asian Gangs into a photo-imaging system (PIMS). At the time of our review PIMS included photographs and biographical information on approximately 600,000 persons arrested in the New York City area. However, use of VCTF funds for development of a network was inconsistent with the original criteria used to make award decisions. This criteria excluded computer networks as an approved funding category.
- The USAO did not use funds for the Latin Kings VCTF as proposed and requested and received approval from the EOUSA review committee to develop a case and cooperator mapping system (CCMS) containing information from USAO cases, not just those related to the Latin Kings gang. It informed EOUSA that it had dismantled the Latin Kings through its prosecutions of gang members. Meanwhile, the FBI continued to investigate Latin Kings gang activity and requested overtime funding, which the USAO denied. According to the USAO, the overtime request did not meet the requirements for overtime funds based on the investigative information available at the time.
- The USAO received VCTF funding for the continuation of a DEA Housing Authority task force that was to identify and remove gang leaders who used Housing Authority developments as their base of operations. Although the DEA Housing Authority VCTF conducted investigations in 1994 and 1995 that resulted in the successful prosecution of housing project gang cases, the USAO did not expend VCTF funds for these activities. In July 1995, the New York Housing Authority Police Department was abolished and the DEA enforcement groups that participated on the Housing Authority VCTF refocused their efforts on other DEA priorities. The DEA, however, did not notify the USAO of this change as required by EOUSA guidance. Unaware that the task force had ended, the USAO processed a DEA request to transfer VCTF overtime funds to the support staff budget category for data analysts. The EOUSA review committee approved the request, and the USAO contracted and paid for data analysts with VCTF funds. Although the data analysts were assigned to each of the enforcement groups, we could not tie their work to the reported task force accomplishments.
- The USAO had not expended any VCTF funds for the FBI VCTFs at the time of our review. Although the FBI's VCTFs had made many arrests, these activities were not supported by VCTF funds and should not have been reported as accomplishments under the program. Instead of using VCTF funds to hire support staff for these task forces, as originally proposed, the USAO received approval from the EOUSA review committee to use the funds to obtain computer and investigative equipment for the FBI.
As part of our review, we found deficiencies in administrative and financial controls over the VCTF funds and activities. For example, the USAO:
- could not account for all property purchased with VCTF funds, failed to appoint VCTF property custodians for each of the task forces, did not establish complete property records, and did not conduct an inventory of the VCTF property for the Asian Gang and DEA Housing Authority VCTFs;
- failed to perform a security background investigation on the personnel contracted to develop the USAO case and cooperator mapping system; and
- incorrectly reported accomplishments for the DEA Housing Authority VCTF and FBI VCTFs that were not the result of task force activities or task force funding.
We found that the USAO did not designate a representative to monitor the activities of the DEA Housing Authority VCTF and FBI VCTFs or take other steps to ensure VCTF operational and financial activities were appropriate. EOUSA should have required the USAOs to monitor the activities of each VCTF within their districts and consider using memoranda of understanding to identify responsibilities for each VCTF participant.
The EOUSA issued guidance covering administrative and financial requirements. However, EOUSA did not establish procedures to ensure that the USAOs were adhering to the requirements of the VCTF guidance. Also, EOUSA did not identify, in this guidance, each USAO's responsibilities for the management and oversight of task force activities. Although EOUSA did monitor overall expenditures and periodically request VCTF funding status reports, we found that EOUSA did not establish procedures to ensure that the accomplishment data reported by the USAO were the result of task force activities or task force funding.