The USMS is responsible for ensuring the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings; protecting more than 2,000 federal judges and approximately 5,250 other court officials at more than 400 court facilities while providing security systems at nearly 900 facilities; arresting federal, state, and local fugitives; protecting federal witnesses; transporting federal prisoners; managing assets seized from criminal enterprises; and responding to major national events, terrorism, and significant high-threat trials. The USMS Director and Deputy Director work with 94 U.S. Marshals to direct approximately 4,900 employees at 315 locations throughout the 50 states, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
The OIG’s Audit Division examined the USMS’s oversight of its Judicial Facilities Security Program. This program provides over 5,000 court security officers (CSO) and security systems and equipment at more than 400 U.S. federal court facilities in 12 federal judicial circuits. CSOs use security screening systems for detecting and intercepting weapons and other prohibited items from individuals attempting to bring them into federal court facilities. Both CSOs and the security systems are procured through contracts with private security firms. In FY 2009, the federal judiciary allotted approximately $370 million for the USMS’s court security services.
This OIG audit assessed the USMS’s efforts to provide security at federal court facilities and the USMS’s oversight of the CSO program, security systems, and related contracts. Overall, our audit identified weaknesses in the USMS’s efforts to secure federal court facilities and its management of the CSO program. In addition, the audit found deficiencies in the USMS’s oversight of the CSO program and security systems contracts.
For example, our audit found that not all CSOs have been fully trained on the use of security screening equipment. Additionally, three of the six USMS district offices we visited during the audit failed to conduct required quarterly testing of security procedures to screen visitors, packages, and mail delivered to the courthouses. In addition, in February 2009 several USMS district offices failed to detect mock explosive devices sent by USMS headquarters to the district offices for local testing purposes. We also found instances where security features of new equipment were not being used, partly because no one had received training on the features.
Three of the six judges we interviewed expressed concerns related to the USMS court security program in their respective districts. One Chief Judge was generally dissatisfied with the physical security of the building and expressed concerns over whether adequate security was being provided at entry checkpoints, including the public building entrance, parking garage, and judge’s entrance. In another district, the Chief Judge said that funding and manpower limitations have negatively affected the quality and level of court security provided by the USMS. In a third district, the Chief Judge and his assistant believed that inspections of trucks entering the courthouse are poorly conducted, which jeopardized the safety of the facility.
The USMS maintains data on arrests and other incidents, such as attempts to bring illegal weapons or contraband into court facilities, bomb threats, and assaults. The following chart provides a breakdown of incidents and arrests that were reported by USMS districts in FYs 2009 and 2010.
|Incidents and Arrests at U.S. Court Facilities
FY’s 2009 and 20101
|Violation||FY 2009||FY 2010|
Our audit found inconsistent reporting by USMS district offices on incidents and arrests at federal court facilities, and little analysis was conducted by USMS headquarters on the data it received from the district offices. We reported that a thorough analysis of this data could allow for better planning in the deployment of screening equipment, building design, and staffing. Such an analysis also could be valuable to the federal judiciary and ensure that the judiciary is better aware of potential security threats.
The audit also found that the USMS awarded a contract worth about $300 million to a CSO contractor with a history of fraudulent activities, despite an earlier fraud alert issued by the OIG’s Investigations Division. The fraud alert informed the USMS that there had been multiple fraud convictions and civil judgments against the contractor’s chief financial officer, including criminal convictions for mail fraud, submitting false insurance claims, and bank fraud, as well as six fraud-related civil judgments totaling more than $1.4 million. Nevertheless, the USMS awarded the contract to this contractor. After receiving the USMS contract, the contractor ultimately filed for bankruptcy, leaving many CSOs temporarily without compensation for their services.
We also found that the USMS failed to conduct timely background investigations for newly hired CSOs or effectively analyze CSO performance violations. During our review of a sample of 60 CSO personnel files, we found that 63 percent of these files contained out-of-date medical examination records, 18 percent lacked required firearms qualification records, and 47 percent contained outdated firearms qualifications.
The audit report provides 15 recommendations to the USMS to help improve its Judicial Facilities Security Program, including recommendations that the USMS ensure that quarterly unannounced tests of screening checkpoints are performed as required, and that all CSOs and judicial security inspectors are appropriately trained before entering on duty. The USMS concurred with all 15 recommendations and discussed the actions it would take to implement them.
During this reporting period, the OIG received 226 complaints involving the USMS. The most common allegations made against USMS employees included official misconduct; waste and mismanagement; off-duty violations; and force, abuse, and rights violations. The majority of the complaints were considered management issues and were provided to the USMS for its review and appropriate action.
During this reporting period, the OIG opened eight investigations and referred four allegations to the USMS’s Office of Internal Affairs for action or investigation. At the close of the reporting period, the OIG had 26 open cases of alleged misconduct against USMS employees.
|Source: Investigations Data Management System|
The following are examples of cases involving the USMS that the OIG’s Investigations Division handled during this reporting period:
- An investigation conducted by the OIG’s Washington Field Office led to the arrest and guilty plea of a former USMS administrative officer to theft of $104,000 in government funds. The investigation determined that the former administrative officer was engaged in criminal activity while she was working for the USMS in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia from 2002 through November 2008. The former administrative officer admitted to the OIG that she unlawfully used a USMS credit card for personal expenses totaling approximately $15,000; created a fictitious employee in the USMS payroll system and submitted falsified time and attendance records for the employee resulting in fraudulent payments totaling $31,000, which she converted to her personal use; facilitated the issuance of $51,000 in U.S. Treasury checks to pay down the balance on a personal credit card, disguising the theft with fraudulent business invoices she created to make the payments appear legitimate; and converted an additional $7,000 in U.S. Treasury checks used to pay the balance on another personal credit card. Prior to this investigation, the former administrative officer had left the USMS in November 2008 and obtained employment with the DEA in a similar capacity. The former USMS administrative officer resigned from the DEA during this investigation.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Chicago Field Office led to the arrest of a former Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal, previously assigned to the USMS Northern District of Illinois, Chicago Office, based on an indictment returned in the Northern District of Illinois charging him with making false statements to the OIG. The investigation determined that the Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal provided criminal history, motor vehicle, and driver license information obtained from restricted law enforcement databases to a friend who was under investigation by the FBI for staging fake accidents to collect insurance proceeds. When interviewed by the OIG, the Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal provided false and misleading information, including his statement that he had been conducting his own investigation into the insurance fraud scheme. The Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal retired from the USMS prior to the initiation of the OIG investigation.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Dallas Field Office resulted in the arrest and guilty plea of a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the Southern District of Texas to a charge of misuse of a government computer. The investigation determined that the Deputy U.S. Marshal placed an electronic tracking device owned by the USMS on the personally owned vehicle of the Deputy U.S. Marshal’s former wife. The use of the USMS tracking device was not related to any USMS or other law enforcement investigation and the Deputy U.S. Marshal did not have authorization to place it on his former wife’s car. The Deputy U.S. Marshal used his government-issued computer to electronically track his former wife’s vehicle for more than 15 days. He was sentenced to 24 months of supervised release, fined $5,000, and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
- An investigation by the OIG’s Washington Field Office and the USMS Office of Internal Investigations led to the arrest of a Deputy U.S. Marshal, assigned to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., for theft of government funds. The investigation found that the Deputy U.S. Marshal used his government issued fleet credit card for numerous unauthorized purchases of gasoline over a 15-month period with financial loss to the government estimated at a minimum of $5,000.
- In our March 2009 Semiannual Report to Congress, we reported on an investigation by the OIG’s New York Field Office that resulted in the arrest of a Deputy U.S. Marshal based on an indictment returned in the District of New Jersey charging him with providing a firearm to a convicted felon. OIG investigators determined that the Deputy U.S. Marshal purchased a semi-automatic handgun by certifying on USMS letterhead that it was for “official use” only and would not be transferred to another person. However, the Deputy U.S. Marshal gave the weapon to a friend whose past criminal convictions included aggravated assault, robbery, and unlawful possession of a handgun. The friend was arrested for possession of the handgun after police officers recognized him as an individual who had days earlier misrepresented himself as a law enforcement officer. During this reporting period, the Deputy U.S. Marshal was sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release after being found guilty by a jury of providing a firearm to a convicted felon and perjury. The USMS dismissed the Deputy U.S. Marshal from his position as a result of our investigation.
The USMS’s Complex Assets Unit administers complex financial assets seized by the Department that involve special business or financial issues, which may include large companies, rental properties, and stock and bond portfolios. This OIG audit is assessing the USMS’s oversight of seized and forfeited complex assets.
The OIG is reviewing the USMS’s policies and practices for awarding and administering contracts. The OIG seeks to determine whether the USMS complies with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Department policies, and internal USMS policies in its award and administration of contracts; whether USMS internal controls ensure adequate contract oversight; and whether the USMS properly manages vendors to ensure contract requirements are met and contractor billings are accurate and complete.