|OJP manages the majority of the Departmentís grant programs and is responsible for developing initiatives to address crime at the state and local level. OJP is composed of 5 bureaus – Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) – as well as the Community Capacity Development Office and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking Office.|
This OIG audit examined the reimbursements awarded by the Department under the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative (SWBPI), a program administered by OJP. SWBPI is a program in which the Department provides reimbursement to the four Southwest border states and local jurisdictions for prosecution and pre-trial detention costs in federally initiated cases that are declined by the USAOs.
The OIG audit examined over $14 million in SWBPI reimbursements received by nine California counties during FY 2002 through FY 2007. The audit determined that reimbursements totaling over $12 million (85 percent) were unallowable or unsupported.
The audit found that six of the nine counties had hired a contractor, Public Resource Management Group, to manage their SWBPI reimbursement requests. The contractor provided inaccurate guidance to these six counties and, as a result, the counties submitted and received reimbursement from OJP for cases that were ineligible for reimbursement under SWBPI guidelines. We also identified an additional county that did not use the contractor but used the same inaccurate criteria to submit and receive reimbursement for unallowable cases. The remaining two counties that we audited did not use the contractor, and the majority of the cases they submitted for reimbursement were allowable.
The results of our SWBPI audits for the seven counties using inaccurate criteria were investigated by the OIG Investigations Division and referred to the USAOs for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California. The USAOs reached settlement agreements with the seven counties totaling $11.03 million in funds to be paid back to the United States for unallowable cases.
Specifically, the USAO for the Northern District of California reached agreements under which the counties agreed to pay back to the United States the following amounts: San Francisco County – $5,228,192; San Mateo County – $1,513,921; Humboldt County – $416,986; Lake County – $989,605; San Benito County – $397,984; and Mendocino County – $1,793,045. The USAO for the Eastern District of California reached an agreement that provided for Siskiyou County to pay the United States $695,080.
We also referred the contractor’s involvement in the submission of unallowable SWBPI reimbursements to the USAO for the Northern District of California, which concluded that because the contractor had dissolved and SWBPI funds had been received by the counties rather than the contractor, it would not seek a civil recovery against the contractor.
In our report, we recommended that OJP implement procedures to analyze SWBPI reimbursements to identify anomalies and unallowable or unsupported payments. OJP agreed with our recommendation.
During this reporting period, the OIG continued to conduct audits of grants awarded by OJP. Examples of findings from these audits included the following:
- Between July 2002 and September 2004, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awarded the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) a total of $1,237,504 distributed through a grant and two supplements. Our audit found that the OCFS failed to fully comply with six of the nine essential grant conditions we tested. For example, it failed to maintain the required supporting documentation for personnel expenditures and submitted only 2 out of the required 10 progress reports. Because of the deficiencies identified, we questioned $760,454, or 61 percent of the grant funds. OJP agreed with our findings and agreed to coordinate with the OCFS to remedy the questioned amount.
- The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) received a grant from OJP that totaled $2,603,234. Our audit found the DHSS did not fully comply with the grant requirements we tested and that its expenditures and monitoring of contractors had material weaknesses. For example, the grantee was unable to provide any supporting documentation, such as copies of contractor site visits and of ongoing monitoring and oversight, although a former grantee official said site visits were conducted on a quarterly basis. We also determined that the DHSS charged $287,154 to the grant for unallowable expenditures and $412,562 to the grant that could not be adequately supported. OJP agreed with our findings and will coordinate with the DHSS to remedy the $3,291,807 in questioned costs.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 20 complaints involving OJP employees, contractors, or grantees. The most common allegation made was grantee fraud. The OIG opened 9 cases and referred several complaints to OJP for its review and appropriate action.
At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 31 open criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct related to OJP employees, contractors, or grantees. The majority of these criminal investigations involved allegations of grantee fraud. The following are examples of cases involving OJP that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- A joint investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office and the Legal Services Corporation OIG led to the arrest and guilty plea of the acting executive director of Department grant recipient U’una’I Legal Services Corporation to theft of federal funds. U’una’I Legal Services Corporation is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence. The investigation found that the acting executive director stole over $31,000 in federal grant funds from the U’una’I Legal Services Corporation by giving himself additional paychecks and payment for grant writing to which he was not entitled. Sentencing is pending.
- In our March 2009 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on a joint investigation by the OIG’s Fraud Detection Office, Legal Services Corporation OIG, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) OIG that led to the arrest of a secretary at Southern Arizona Legal Aid on 73 counts of mail fraud. The indictment returned in the District of Arizona alleged that the secretary embezzled more than $18,000 in funds from clients of Southern Arizona Legal Aid who were seeking assistance in filing Employment Authorization Documents and by causing the misuse of Department grant matching funds and DHS fee waivers for those same clients. During this reporting period, the secretary was sentenced in the District of Arizona to 3 months’ incarceration and 3 years supervised release pursuant to her guilty plea to charges of mail fraud related to the embezzlement of funds from Southern Arizona Legal Aid. She also was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution.
The OIG is assessing the adequacy of OJP’s design and management of its prisoner re-entry initiative grant programs, including the Serious and Violent Offender Re-entry Initiative.