- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Drug Enforcement Administration wasted more than $850,000 by paying an Amtrak employee for work as a confidential source when the federal employee was already obligated to share information with law enforcement, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general.

Over the course of 20 years, the DEA made payments to the Amtrak employee in exchange for acting as a source and providing information to the agency. The arrangement netted the employee $854,460 as of January 2014 but was a “violation of federal regulations relating to the use of government property.”

According to the inspector general’s investigative summary, which does not go into detail about the arrangement or identify the employee involved, the Amtrak Police Department and the DEA participate in a joint task force that works to interdict passengers trafficking contraband on Amtrak trains.

Thus, the information provided through the confidential source should have all been available to the DEA at no cost. An arrangement allowing the employee to collect payments was “thereby wasting substantial government funds,” the report states.

As the inspector general’s office investigated this case, it also discovered a second arrangement between the DEA and an Amtrak employee in which the employee collected $9,701 in exchange for providing information as a confidential source. The inspector general’s report notes that documents registering that Amtrak employee as a confidential source did not contain information identifying the source as an Amtrak employee.

The office provided the reports to the DEA “for appropriate action,” but the investigative summaries do not indicate if any DEA employees were disciplined as a result.

DEA spokesman Michael Shavers said the DEA agreed with the findings of the OIG investigation and is currently working with the Justice Department to revise policies and procedures to bring them in line with the Attorney General’s guidelines.

In a second investigative summary released Thursday, the inspector general’s office also determined that the DEA had violated its own policy by registering a Transportation Security Administration security screener as a confidential informant.

The TSA employee was ultimately not paid any money for work as a confidential source because the employee did not provide any “actionable information” to the DEA.

Mr. Shavers said the DEA first identified the policy violation in April 2013 and that “the cooperating source in question was immediately deactivated.”

The inspector general’s report indicates that the TSA security screener had been asked to notify the DEA of any passengers carrying large sums of money in exchange for a reward based on any money seized, a violation of the DEA’s interdiction policies.

As in the Amtrak case, the inspector general’s office indicates that the case was reported to the DEA for action but does not specify what, if any, disciplinary action was taken.

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