- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2009

U.S. Marshals Service lawyer Joseph Band’s side job as a statistician got him into some biggest sporting events on the planet and let him rub elbows with some of the best-known sportscasters.

But an internal investigation concluded that it didn’t give Mr. Band the right to turn armed marshals into taxi drivers for him, Fox Sports personalities Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, and hall-of-fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

An investigation by the Justice Department inspector general found that Mr. Band violated Marshal Service ethics standards by misusing his position and improperly using government vehicles. It also concluded three U.S. marshals inappropriately approved Mr. Band’s requests.

Mr. Band, who has worked part time as a sport statistician for more than three decades, received rides from deputy marshals to and from two World Series games in Boston in 2007, the Super Bowl in Arizona in 2008 and an NFL playoff game in Tampa in 2007.

The deputy marshals also gave rides or escorted the limousines of the Fox sports personalities, according to the inspector general’s report.

Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell told the Associated Press that company officials were unaware “that those arrangements were in any way inappropriate and regret to learn now that they apparently were.”

Some of the deputy marshals expressed reservations about their assignments. But, as one deputy reasoned, it was OK to do what Mr. Band asked because he “was the guy who advised us on ethics.”

Mr. Band, who spent more than 40 years with the federal government and had worked for the U.S. Marshals Service Office of General Counsel since 1992, retired Jan. 3. He will not face any criminal charges because Justice Department prosecutors have declined to bring charges, according to the inspector general.

Mr. Band’s attorney, Jacob Stein, defended his client in a letter to the inspector general, describing Mr. Band as an exemplary employee with a passion for sports. Mr. Band worked about 20 to 30 times a year as a sports statistician for Fox Sports and other outlets.

“Mr. Band had no control, knowledge or decision-making discretion with respect to the use of any government vehicle or government personnel,” Mr. Stein wrote.

Nikki Credic, a spokeswoman for the Marshal Service, said some of the U.S. marshals involved did face discipline, but added that agency policy prevented her from offering any specifics.

The three U.S. marshals involved - Thomas Hurlburt of Florida, David Gonzales of Arizona and Yvonne Bonner, who was the acting U.S. marshal of Massachusetts before retiring last month - all denied any wrongdoing.

At least one marshal thought Mr. Band’s requests were wrong.

Frederico Rocha, the U.S. marshal for Northern California, refused to have the service provide Mr. Band transportation to and from the 2007 baseball all-star game in San Francisco. When Mr. Band asked for the best way to get to the ballpark, according to the inspector general’s report, Mr. Rocha suggested taking a trolley or cab.

But Mr. Rocha said he would be happy to have a deputy marshal give Mr. Band a ride to the Marshal Service office in San Francisco to speak to employees about his work at the national headquarters. According to the report, Mr. Rocha said employees in his office didn’t offer get to meet officials from headquarters.

Mr. Band declined Mr. Rocha’s offer.

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