EXCLUSIVE: Sex, Racism, Corruption in U.S. Marshals Service Revealed
Internal documents obtained by The Messenger shed light on 'pervasive misconduct' in the agency.
Racist comments, sexual relationships with confidential sources, information passed to a target of an investigation, drunken fights with weapons ... even a Nazi salute.
A cache of previously unreported internal documents from the U.S. Marshals Service reveals widespread misconduct within its ranks in recent years — and the punishments meted out by the law enforcement agency.
The documents, a database of internal investigations, shed light on "pervasive misconduct" in the agency that was detailed in a 2019 memo by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, after a years-long investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Marshals Service, which has about 4,000 employees and is headquartered in northern Virginia, is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the country and is responsible for protecting the federal judiciary, federal prisoner transport, and national and international fugitive operations.
Prostitution, weapons and sex with an informant
The documents obtained by The Messenger detail misconduct cited by Grassley, including a chief inspector who took "an alleged prostitute to a vetted USMS apartment in Mexico City, Mexico."
The inspector was suspended for four days, according to the documents.
They also include dozens of other previously unreported allegations, including a 2017 investigation of a deputy who "had a sexual relationship with an unregistered confidential source, who aided [redacted] in the apprehension of her fugitive uncle."
That deputy, who resigned from the agency, disclosed the source's identity to her family and also "received sexual favors from female coworkers at the USMS El Paso Office," the documents state.
Another deputy was suspended for eight days after he allegedly had sexual relations with a student volunteer intern who flew to the Virgin Islands to see him while he was on temporary duty assignment, according to the records.
"Law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard — and should be," said retired Chief Inspector Jason Wojdylo, who reviewed a number of the cases at the request of The Messenger, but did not provide them.
He said misconduct likely still pervades the Marshals Service, but the agency has taken greater steps to address the issue — and it's not unique among law enforcement agencies.
"Misconduct still occurs throughout the ranks, yet by a minority of employees," said Wojdylo.
The documents also include a number of instances of Marshals Service employees using their positions to benefit themselves and their associates.
A 2016 probe determined a Marshals deputy told a U.S. Forest Service Officer he was under scrutiny after learning he was the target of a local investigation, according to the documents.
The deputy was suspended for 10 days.
In 2018, the agency demoted a chief deputy after an allegation that they "conducted unauthorized record checks and released sensitive law enforcement information to a known 'Bond Company' for payment."
In a statement, Marshals spokesperson Drew Wade said the agency takes allegations of misconduct seriously — and holds employees accountable if they are substantiated.
“We expect all employees to uphold the agency’s values of justice, integrity and service," Wade said.
From 'Nazi salute' to bar brawls
Other investigations in the documents include use of racially charged language and actions by employees of the agency.
"Chief of Aviation [name redacted] allegedly walked into former JPATS Chief of Operations office and gave him a 'Nazi salute'," the documents state, noting the chief was suspended for two days for the 2018 incident.
An investigative research specialist for warrant assignments alleged a deputy "displayed a bias when selecting fugitive investigative cases, by making specific requests to work on cases involving African American and Hispanic minorities," the documents state.
The deputy was given an "oral admonishment."
Other internal probes noted in the documents include a deputy suspended for seven days in 2018 who "allegedly consumed excessive amounts of alcohol and displayed firearms in public settings."
Still another deputy was suspended for three days for allegedly assaulting two other Marshals employees at a Washington, DC, bar called Hamilton's in June 2017, the documents state.
"Sometimes ... misconduct goes without consequence, sending the wrong message when certain officials are given the opportunity to retire in lieu of discipline," Wojydlo said, adding the agency has done better over the years at bringing consistency to the process.
Misconduct across the law enforcement profession — not just in the Marshals Service — is the reason most agencies have an office of professional responsibility or internal affairs, he added.
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