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US Marshals Investigated for Quid Pro Quo Hiring, Misuse of Asset Forfeiture Funds

Whistleblower: Qualification requirements waived for high-paying contract

• March 19, 2015 4:55 pm

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has launched an investigation into alleged quid pro quo hiring and misuse of federal asset forfeiture funds at the US Marshals Service.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Marshals Service Thursday, Grassley requested records in response to whistleblower allegations that senior officials in the service’s Asset Forfeiture Division (AFD) engaged in improper hiring practices.

Grassley said a whistleblower claimed that Kimberly Beal, then the deputy assistant director of the AFD, had qualification requirements waived to hire a person for a high-paying contract who was recommended by Stacia Hylton, the director of the Marshals Service. According to the whistleblower, Beal did so while under consideration for her current position of assistant director, raising suspicions that the hiring was a quid pro quo arrangement.

"This quid pro quo exchange of favors, if true, would raise serious doubts about the operational practices of the USMS AFD under Ms. Beal as well as, frankly, Ms. Hylton’s leadership of the USMS," Grassley’s office said in the letter.

On Wednesday, Grassley’s office sent a separate letter demanding documents in response to allegations that the AFD used asset forfeiture funds—funds raised through the seizure or property such as cars and cash—"to purchase extravagant offices decorations such as custom wall paper and window treatments."

Asset forfeiture has come under intense scrutiny in recent years after news reports detailed how law enforcement used the practice to seize property from citizens without ever charging them with a crime.

The Marshals Service is responsible for administering the Justice Department’s nationwide asset forfeiture program.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in January that the Justice Department would curtail its asset forfeiture program that funnels funds from seized property to police departments across the country.

"The U.S. Marshals Service will review these allegations and respond to the senator with our findings," the agency said in a statement.