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.
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (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. In this section, we discuss our audits of grantees who have received COPS grants through funds appropriated through the regular process. We discuss our work related to COPS’ oversight of grant funds awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in a separate section in this semiannual report.
One COPS grant program is its Technology Program, which is designed to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies procure technology that enhances their ability to share information with regional, state, and federal partners. During this reporting period, the OIG audited grantees who received technology awards from COPS. The purpose of our audits was to determine whether the costs reimbursed under the grants were allowable, supported, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions of the grant. The following are examples of findings from OIG audits of COPS Technology Program grants issued during this reporting period.
- The OIG audited a $6 million COPS Technology Program grant awarded to the San Antonio, Texas, Police Department to support the development of integrated voice and data communication networks in the region that could handle over 1.5 million 911 calls annually. We tested compliance by the grantee with conditions of the grant, including drawdowns, grant expenditures, matching costs, and asset management. We found that the San Antonio Police Department underwent an audit for FY 2008 as required and adhered to grant drawdown requirements. The financial status reports we reviewed were timely and accurate. However, we identified weaknesses in the grantee’s internal controls, such as the lack of separation-of-duties in instances where the same employee was requesting and approving purchases for technology equipment, misclassification of expenses in the grantee’s official accounting records, and timeliness of submitting progress reports. In addition, one of the San Antonio Police Department’s grant-funded employees did not function in the capacity approved by COPS in the San Antonio Police Department’s grant application. COPS agreed with the four recommendations in our audit, have resolved three of them, and are working towards resolving the final recommendation.
- The OIG conducted an audit of a COPS Technology Program grant awarded to Bonneville County, Idaho, for more than $2.9 million. The purpose of this grant was to build the infrastructure of a new digital radio communication system and to provide the county’s partner agencies with funding to purchase compatible mobile and portable radio equipment. Our audit did not reveal any material noncompliance with regard to COPS’ grant requirements. We found that Bonneville County’s internal control environment appeared adequate to segregate duties, trace transactions, and limit access to systems. We also found that grant drawdowns and expenditures were properly supported, budget management and control appeared adequate, reports were accurate and submitted timely, and contractors were adequately monitored. Additionally, we found that property purchased with grant funds was labeled with identification numbers and logged on inventory lists.
The following is an example of a case handled by the OIG’s Investigation Division during this reporting period:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Denver Field Office, the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division resulted in the debarment of a former President of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe in Tuba City, Arizona, by the Department, effective September 21, 2010, for a period of three years. By this action, the former tribal president is precluded from soliciting or receiving contracts or subcontracts from the federal government or conducting business with the federal government as an agent or representative of a contractor. The investigation had discovered evidence that the former tribal president had obtained a COPS grant totaling $224,997 from the Department of Justice to hire three police officers. However, she failed to hire the three police officers, and instead submitted a false record stating otherwise and then converted $174,997 of the federal funds for her own use. The former tribal president was convicted by plea of making false statements, theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funds, and money laundering; she was sentenced to 24 months’ incarceration followed by 36 months of supervised release and fined $75,000.
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. To be eligible for equitable sharing proceeds, law enforcement agencies must submit a request within 60 days of an asset seizure.
During this reporting period, the OIG examined the use of equitable sharing revenues by the Berwyn Police Department in Berwyn, Illinois. The Berwyn Police Department received $654,681 in equitable sharing revenues from January 2006 through April 2009 to support law enforcement operations. Our audit found deficiencies in the Berwyn Police Department’s management of equitable sharing funds resulting in over $1 million in questioned costs. Specifically, we identified unallowable expenditures by the Police Department for non-law enforcement purposes, such as charitable donations and banquets, and some expenditures that were not supported with adequate receipts or invoices. In addition, we questioned over $800,000 in equitable sharing funds used to purchase police department vehicles from FYs 2001 through 2009 because such use represented a replacement of funds required for standard operations rather than an enhancement of law enforcement operations. We also found weaknesses in the Berwyn Police Department’s overall internal control environment, particularly related to separation of duties; errors in its required annual certification reports; and errors and omissions in the property management records. In addition, the Berwyn Police Department failed to report accurate equitable sharing receipts for purposes of single audit requirements for FYs 2006 and 2007. The report made 10 recommendations to address identified weaknesses. One recommendation remains unresolved.
The Criminal Division’s Office of Prosecutorial Development and Criminal Investigative Training Program
The Criminal Division’s Office of Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training and Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program 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, property, and program results, as well as the programs’ coordination with other U.S. agencies and foreign components.
The following is an example of a case that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- A joint investigation conducted by the OIG’s New York Field Office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led to the arrest and guilty plea of an Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) legal clerk and a civilian in the District of New Jersey on immigration fraud charges. The investigation determined that beginning in 2004, the legal clerk and civilian participated in a scheme to submit fraudulent applications to the United States immigration services on behalf of individuals who did not qualify for immigration benefits. They each received cash payments in exchange for submitting the fraudulent applications. The legal clerk has been suspended from her position at EOIR. Sentencing is pending for both the legal clerk and civilian.
The OIG is examining EOIR’s efforts to reduce the backlog of cases in its immigration courts.
The OIG is examining the Office of the Pardon Attorney procedures for processing clemency petitions.
The following is an example of a case that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- An investigation by the OIG’s Denver Field Office led to the arrest of a District of Colorado USAO paralegal on charges of concealing and failing to report a felony. The investigation revealed that the paralegal laundered the proceeds from an associate’s drug sales by depositing them into her own bank account and acted as the associate’s banker, knowing that the banking transactions were designed to conceal the ownership and control of the drug proceeds. In addition, the paralegal failed to make known the commission of the drug-distribution crimes to police or federal law enforcement officials. The paralegal has resigned from the USAO. Judicial proceedings continue.
The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
During this reporting period, the OIG conducted audits of OVW grant recipients, including recipients of the award programs described above. The following are examples of those OIG grant audits.
- The Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI), a nonprofit organization in Wilmington, Delaware, received a Legal Assistance for Victims award and two supplements totaling almost $900,000 from FYs 2005 through 2009. Our audit found CLASI to be in material non-compliance with the grant requirements tested and that $829,340 of grant-funded expenditures, or 93 percent of the $891,422 grant award, were unsupported or unallowable. Specifically, the audit found material weaknesses with CLASI’s internal control environment; inadequate support for expenditures and expenditures on unapproved costs; inadequate monitoring of contractors; and failure to track expenditures according to approved budget categories. The audit found that the accounting records were unreliable and contained duplicate accounting entries, as well as errors. As a result, we recommended changes to the existing accounting system, implementing a consistent methodology to charge overhead costs to the grant, instituting a documented and formalized drawdown process, strengthening financial reporting procedures, and adhering to prudent budget management and control practices. The OVW agreed with our seven recommendations and is coordinating with CLASI to remedy the questioned costs and enhance the program’s financial management.
- Ama Doo Alchini Bighan, Inc., a nonprofit organization located in Chinle, Arizona, received almost $2 million in Tribal Coalitions Program and Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement grants. Our audit found that the grantee met the match requirement for the Tribal Coalitions Program grant and that performance under both grant programs was acceptable. However, we found that, while there were adequate operating policies and procedures, the grantee did not have approved written financial policies and procedures in place. Also, we found that the FY 2008 Single Audit was delinquent, some drawdowns were inaccurate, notations concerning adjustments to the general ledger were unsupported, some expenses were not accurately recorded in the proper expense categories, and support documentation was inadequate. Additionally, payroll records did not always accurately match the hours worked; percentages of salaries charged to the grant exceeded the amounts approved by the OVW; the match contribution was not recorded in the accounting system; financial status reports did not reconcile to the accounting records and were generally late; and progress reports were incomplete and generally late. Our audit report questioned $22,000 as unsupported costs and contained 13 recommendations to improve the recipient’s grant management. The OVW agreed with each recommendation and is working with the grantee to implement improvements.