Environmental Protection Agency employees received light punishments for "employee integrity" violations and avoided prosecution when crimes allegedly occurred, according to the agency’s inspector general.
The IG revealed a list of employee integrity violations that included assault, illegal possession of a weapon, and efforts to solicit improper personal payments from agency contractors, among other violations.
Many received light punishments for the offenses, including ethics counseling, short leaves of absence, and informal discussions with supervisors.
One employee was sentenced to 18 months of probation for attempting to carry a knife, stashed in one of his shoes, onto a plane.
Despite the criminal prosecution, the employee’s punishment at EPA was minimal. According to the IG, "The employee’s supervisor discussed proper travel procedures with the employee to preclude recurrence."
Another employee "was orally counseled" after assaulting a coworker. "The investigation revealed evidence that [the] employee held another employee’s arm/wrist and did not release it until a document was signed," the IG reported.
The allegation was substantiated, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the agency employee.
That case was one of five substantiated employee integrity violations at EPA from April through September that the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute.
One employee improperly solicited funds from an EPA contractor for his child’s sports team. The employee received ethics counseling.
Another allegedly rigged coworkers’ phones so that he could eavesdrop on their conversations. The allegations were not substantiated, but the employee twice lied to IG investigators looking into the matter.
He "received a written warning for making false statement and was advised to correct his conduct."
One employee forged signatures on reimbursement forms for EPA project expenses, posing as state officials overseeing the expenditures. The IG substantiated the charges, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute.
The employee was suspended for two weeks, one of which will be held in abeyance if the employee agrees to retire in 2014.
The one non-EPA employee listed among the IG’s employee integrity violations, a contractor who brought a firearm inside a federal building, was fired and barred from entering all EPA facilities.
The EPA did not return requests for comment because the federal government is closed due to freezing rain.