NOAA Cop with Gov't. 35' Whaler for personal use
Hard as it is to imagine, NOAA keeps looking worse - and Dale Jones, ex head of NOAA Enforcement, is still working there for over $150 K a year.
February 17, 2012
Report details abuses of NOAA 'pleasure' boat bought with fines
By Richard Gaines
Using money from fines and other penalties imposed upon fishermen, a NOAA law enforcement office in Seattle, Wash., skirted legal procurement laws to acquire a luxury undercover cabin boat in 2008 that was used as a pleasure craft by unidentified personnel — including at least one agent, his wife and friends — according to a new, detailed report from the U.S. Commerce Department's inspector general.
More than $300,000 was taken from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, made up of fines paid by fishermen for violations of the Manguson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, to pay for the 35 foot Boston Whaler, and another $9,400 was charged to the forfeiture fund for moorage, fuel and maintenance.
The abuse of the fund to acquire the boat was first documented publicly in a July 2010 report by Inspector General Todd Zinser that focused heavily on the excessive fines and other NOAA enforcement abuses carried out against fishermen and waterfront businesses in Gloucester and around the Northeast.
But details of the purchase and misuse of the boat were only released to members of Congress this week after the filing of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests.
The requesting members, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and Congressman Rep. John Tierney, released the 34-page report to the Times late Thursday. The initial mention of the boat's purchase as an example of abuse of the AFF did not indicate which region of NOAA law enforcement had been responsible.
The IG began his investigation of law enforcement abuses in June 2010 after persistent complaints emanating from excesses traced to agents and litigators in the Northeast regional office here in Gloucester. The legislative leadership, then the congressional delegation petitioned NOAA Administator Jane Lubchenco to authorize the probe.
The new report was heavily redacted to protect the identity of the principals at the Seattle regional office who were involved in the saga of the undercover pleasure boat.
Chapter headings in the report include:
"Wife and firend aboard for initial launch, running out of fuel in canal, and trip across Puget Sound to Remerton restauarant (June 12, 2008)."
"Trip to Poulsbo restaurant and excursion with friends to Gig Harbor restaurant (Auig. 5, 2008)."
"Stranded with wife in Puget Sound en route to restaurant (Aug. 8, 2008)."
"Following undercover vessel engine failure en route to Blaine restaurant, substitute Office of Law Enforcement marked vessel used for what patrol and trip to Friday Harbor restaurant with subordinate agent's parents aboard."
The IG's report detailed countless violations of procurement procedures as well as "dishonest conduct prejudicial to the government, conduct demonstrating untrustworthiness or unreliability."
What, if any, action has been taken against anyone involved in the abuses could not be deduced from the redacted report.
However, it did note that "on May 31, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the district of Maryland declined criminal prosecution of (the unidentified agent) in favor of administrative remedies." NOAA headquarters are in Silver Spring, Md.
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