• Dipping into the Asset Forfeiture Fund, U.S. Marshals Official Retires Amidst Scandal

    Another top U.S. Marshals Service official has left her job as allegations continue to dog the law enforcement agency.

    Assistant Director for the U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division Kimberly Beal retired amidst an inquiry into allegations that she misused government resources, engaged in quid pro quo hiring practices, and retaliated against whistleblowers. More than 70 employees have reported various degrees of inappropriate behavior within the agency.

    A memo went out announcing her conveniently timed retirement Wednesday, which was effective Oct. 31, a Senate Judiciary Committee aide told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

    The decision comes as Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s ongoing investigation into the U.S. Marshals uncovered allegations that Beal worked to get her boss’ unqualified college buddy hired. After this favor for former U.S. Marshals Director Stacia Hylton, Beal was promoted afterward and allegedly retaliated against whistleblowers, according to Grassley.

    “Email records from 2011 support allegations that then-Deputy Assistant Director Kimberly Beal was trying to win favor with the Director Stacia Hylton when Beal attempted to hire Hylton’s preferred candidate for a highly-paid contract position despite being told that he was unqualified,” Grassley’s office said in a July statement.

    “Emails further indicate that Beal also tried to prevent colleagues from notifying Hylton of the candidate’s lack of qualifications.  At that time, Beal was allegedly being considered by Hylton to fill the acting role of assistant director, which leads the Asset Forfeiture Division.  The candidate was supposedly hired for a related job, and Beal was promoted shortly thereafter.”

    Beal could not be reached for comment.

    The decision comes just months after the June resignation of Hylton amidst Grassley’s ongoing inquiry into allegations of misusing government resources, improper staff hiring and retaliating against agency whistleblowers.

    “The Marshals Service has been plagued with a rash of abuse and misconduct by officials in the agency’s upper echelon – problems I’ve been investigating for the better part of a year now,” Grassley said in a statement. “With Ms. Beal’s departure, and after the agency’s director stepped down in the summer, the agency has an opportunity now to begin taking steps to regain the public’s trust by filling vacancies with dedicated public servants who put their duty to the American people ahead of their own personal and professional gain.”

    Grassley sent a letter in June to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates inquiring about additional allegations that senior executives misused funds in the Asset Forfeiture Fund for private gain.

    Whistleblowers allege that three senior executives needed help with job applications so they enlisted government contractors and government employees to draft the applications. Then, the executives told the contractors to charge the government for the time.

    “The AFF also allegedly pays for the travel of certain USMS employees to AFD headquarters in Arlington, Va., to participate in an ‘Asset Forfeiture Leadership Council,’ according to multiple whistleblowers,” Grassley said in the letter. “Those council meetings allegedly are ‘a waste of time’ that produce not ‘one positive benefit’ and ‘never accomplish anything.’ Nevertheless, AFF monies pay for these employees to fly across the country twice a year.”

    Allegations also came in that the AFF money, which by law is required to be used only for asset forfeiture activities, is actually being used to fund employees who devote a majority of their time to other work.

    “The agency’s apparent failure to accurately track and measure the use of AFF monies to support AF work significantly impairs oversight and accountability for USMS’ use of the fund,” Grassley said in the letter. “This type of lax accounting encourages and perpetuates a culture of impunity for waste and mismanagement.”

    These claims come after a series of allegations that AFF money was used to purchase extravagant office furniture.

    “Information obtained by the Committee also strongly suggests that the USMS is using AFF money not only to pay for luxurious decor, but also to fund regular Marshals Service activities that have nothing to do with asset forfeiture,” Grassley said in the letter.

    Hylton said that allegations of improper hiring and misuse of funds in her agency had nothing to do with her resignation, but the day after she announced that resignation more allegations poured in from Grassley.

    “The dedicated men and women of the U.S. Marshals Service are great patriots who I have had the honor of working with, past and present,” Hylton said in a statement announcing her June resignation.

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