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Directorate for Management

  • The Office of Inspector General Completes Investigation of Mexican National who Died in U.S. Border Patrol Custody in El Paso, TX

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation after information was received from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Professional Responsibility that a Mexican national passed away from medical related issues. The individual was apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in El Paso, TX, on March 17, 2019, was transferred to Las Palmas Medical Center on the evening of March 17, 2019, and died on March 18, 2019.

    DHS OIG reviewed video from the Paso del Norte Processing Center and interviewed undocumented noncitizens, Border Patrol Agents, medical personnel, and Emergency Medical Technicians to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the individual’s death.

    The County of El Paso, Office of the Medical Examiner and Forensic Laboratory deemed that the individual died of natural causes, and cited streptococcus pneumonia and influenza A/H3 pneumonia with hypertensive cardiovascular disease as a significant contributing factor.

    During the course of our investigation, we found no evidence that actions taken by DHS personnel or contractors contributed to the death of the individual.

    For more information visit our website, www.oig.dhs.gov

    DHS Agency
  • The Office of Inspector General Completes Investigation of a Cuban Citizen Who Died at Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami, FL

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation upon being informed that on January 27, 2020, a Cuban citizen had died at Larkin Community Hospital in South Miami, FL. The individual had been detained at the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, FL, since January 14, 2020. On January 23, 2020, the individual was transported and admitted to the hospital for an evaluation.

    DHS OIG’s investigation, which included records reviews, interviews and a review of surveillance camera footage, revealed that the individual died of natural causes. This investigation uncovered no evidence that indicated anyone employed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and/or Krome Service Processing Center staff caused or contributed to the individual’s death.
     

    For more information visit our website, www.oig.dhs.gov

    DHS Agency
  • The Office of Inspector General Completes Joint Investigation of an ICE Detainee Who Died at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, OH.

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG); the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR); and the ICE Health Service Corps jointly investigated the death of an ICE detainee that occurred at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC) in Youngstown, OH.

    An autopsy by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death to be hanging. The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office determined the manner of death to be suicide.

    As part of this joint investigation, the investigative team interviewed NEOCC facility staff and medical staff. We also reviewed the autopsy report, coroner’s report, medical records, incident report, and relevant policies and procedures.

    The joint investigation did not identify any criminal violations. However, ICE OPR External Reviews and Analysis Unit (ERAU) determined the NEOCC failed to comply with four requirements of the ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011 (PBNDS). The areas of non-compliance pertained to significant self-harm/suicide prevention/intervention, detention files, admission/release and custody classification system. The ERAU also noted five areas of concern regarding the individual’s medical care, safety, and security at the NEOCC, although they were not violations of the PBNDS.
     

    For more information visit our website, www.oig.dhs.gov

    DHS Agency
  • Evaluation of DHS' Compliance with Federal Information Security Modernization Act Requirements for Intelligence Systems for Fiscal Year 2020 - Secret

    Executive Summary

    Since our FY 2020 evaluation, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has continued to provide effective oversight of the department-wide intelligence system and has implemented programs to monitor ongoing security practices.  We determined that DHS' information security program for Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information intelligence systems is effective this year as the Department achieved “Level 4 – Managed and Measurable” in three of five cybersecurity functions, based on current reporting instructions for intelligence systems.  However, we identified deficiencies in DHS’ protect and recover functions.  We made three recommendations to I&A to address the deficiencies identified, and I&A concurred with all three recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-21-55
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2021
  • DHS OIG Commemorates National Whistleblower Protection Day

    For Information Contact

    Public Affairs (202) 981-6000

    For Immediate Release

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    In 1778, the Founding Fathers recognized the importance of whistleblowers and passed legislation declaring it the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States” to report “misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors.”  Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG) joins agencies across the federal government to commemorate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.  

    DHS OIG honors whistleblowers who step forward in good faith to promote a more accountable, effective, and efficient government.  The DHS Inspector General hosted a Town Hall today to recognize the important role whistleblowers play in our daily work. 

    “IGs deeply value the contributions of whistleblowers, “said Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari. “We celebrate those who have blown the whistle, and we are committed to empowering individuals to report waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.  Today, we express our gratitude for their bravery and commitment to improving government.” 

    DHS OIG maintains a hotline to receive allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and suspected criminal activity that pertain to DHS programs and operations.  Individuals may contact the OIG Hotline through our website or by calling (800) 323-8603.  Whistleblowers can choose to remain anonymous when reporting to the OIG.  

    DHS OIG also has a Whistleblower Protection Coordinator, who plays an important role as a resource for employees who need to understand the protections and rights afforded them when they report allegations they reasonably believe constitute waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.  The OIG Whistleblower Protection Coordinator is available to provide general information to DHS employees and contractors on whistleblower rights and protections and can be contacted at whistleblowerprotectioncoordinator@oig.dhs.gov
     

    DHS Agency
  • Testimony of James Izzard, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure “Assessing the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Relief and Response Efforts and its Impact..”

  • FY 2018 Audit of Science and Technology Bankcard Program Indicates Risks

    Executive Summary

    In FY 2018, S&T did not always adhere to DHS and internal purchase card policies and procedures.  Of 421 purchase card transactions selected for review, we identified 394 transactions that did not have required supporting documentation, separation of key transaction duties, approvals and other required signatures, or compliance with other risk-based procedures.  According to S&T officials, these issues were due to shortfalls in program oversight and training, as well as outdated policy.  We identified $63,213 in questionable costs associated with purchase card transactions.  We made four recommendations to improve S&T’s adherence to DHS policies and procedures for its Bankcard Program.  S&T concurred with the four recommendations. 

    Report Number
    OIG-21-51
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2021
  • Virginia Woman Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Obtaining COVID-Related Unemployment Benefits for Prison Inmates

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    RICHMOND, Va. – A Glen Allen woman pleaded guilty today to mail fraud for her role in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain pandemic-related unemployment benefits for 22 prison inmates, which she shared with the inmate beneficiaries.

    “These critical unemployment funds were intended for deserving members of our communities to help alleviate their economic hardship during the pandemic,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This prosecution and the defendant’s guilty plea send a clear message that EDVA will bring to justice those who unlawfully exploit taxpayer-funded assistance for personal gain.”

    According to court documents, Virginia Smith, 37, conspired with an inmate at Baskerville Correctional Center to collect the personally identifiable information of inmates to fraudulently apply for Virginia unemployment benefits from around June 2020 to January 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith, with the assistance of the inmate co-conspirator, submitted successful applications for Virginia unemployment benefits for at least 22 inmates at Baskerville Correctional Center, resulting in the dispersal of at least $223,984.72 in fraudulent benefits.

    “Smith and her co-conspirators used the identities of prisoners housed at the Baskerville Correctional Center to file fraudulent unemployment claims and unlawfully collect more than $223,000 in resulting benefit payments,” said Derek Pickle, Special Agent-in-Charge, Washington Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. “As the primary law enforcement agency responsible for investigating unemployment insurance fraud, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General is committed to supporting the prosecution of individuals who take advantage of unemployment insurance programs. We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Virginia Employment Commission, and our law enforcement partners for their invaluable support of our mission.”

    “Intentional abuse of COVID-19 unemployment benefits for personal gain is appalling,” said Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security. “Today’s sentencing illustrates that DHS OIG and our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to dismantle these greed-driven schemes.”

    As part of their scheme, Smith’s co-conspirator would provide her with the names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of inmates serving a sentence at Baskerville Correctional Center. Smith would then file unemployment claims with the Virginia Employment Commission using that information. Once the applications were approved, Smith would share the proceeds of the crime with the inmates whose personal information she used to file the fraudulent claims, keeping a portion of the proceeds for herself. The applications contained several false statements such as a false physical address, rather than the address of the correctional facility at which the inmates were actually living; a false last employer; and a false certification that the inmates were ready, willing, and able to work in the event employment became available.

    Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on September 9. She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

    Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Derek Pickle, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Washington, DC Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security; Jerald W. Page, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Richmond Field Office; and Eric D. English, Chief Henrico County Police Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. accepted the plea.

    This investigation was conducted under the auspices of “Operation Checkmate,” the Virginia Department of Corrections Inmate Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force. The task force is led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, DOL-OIG, DHS-OIG, and the Virginia Department of Corrections. This investigation included significant assistance from the Virginia Employment Commission.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Kashan Pathan is prosecuting the case.

    A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:21-cr-60.

    DHS Agency
  • Former CEO Sentenced for Defrauding Multiple Federal Agencies

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    Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

    For Immediate Release

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    ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Arlington businessman was sentenced today to 21 months in prison with three years of supervised release for making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits.

    “In the early stages of the global pandemic, the defendant engaged in three egregious fraudulent schemes that he brazenly concocted to enrich himself,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “He falsely represented to the federal government that he could provide $38 million in life-saving N95 masks, and simultaneously, he fraudulently obtained over $1 million in pandemic assistance intended for deserving families and businesses. The defendant also continued an offensive seven-year scheme to obtain unearned veterans benefits by falsely claiming to have served as a Marine. This case underscores our commitment to holding accountable those who exploit essential government programs at the expense of veterans, front-line medical personnel, and vulnerable members of our communities.”

    According to court documents, Robert S. Stewart, Jr., 35, was the owner and president of Federal Government Experts (FGE) LLC, an Arlington-based company that purported to provide various services to the U.S. government. In this capacity, between April 1, 2020 and May 14, 2020, Stewart made false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in order to obtain lucrative contracts to provide COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, Stewart fraudulently obtained loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. He also defrauded the VA by falsely claiming to be entitled to veteran’s benefits for serving in the U.S. Marine Corps when, in fact, he never served in the Marines.

    As part of his PPE scheme, Stewart falsely stated to procurement officials from FEMA and the VA that he was in possession of large quantities of PPE, including N95 masks. Based on Stewart’s false statements, the VA and FEMA awarded FGE contracts valued at $35,000,000 and $3,510,000, respectively. The VA intended to use the PPE purchased from FGE to protect employees and patients at various Veterans Health Administration facilities, which serve the medical needs of over nine million veterans each year. FGE failed to supply any PPE to the VA and FEMA. The U.S. government suffered no financial loss because the contract called for payment upon delivery and inspection of the goods.

    “These were crimes against the American people. Stewart fraudulently pursued contracts that were needed to supply VA hospital patients and staff with critical personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and stole taxpayer dollars intended to help local businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. In addition, he lied about his service in the military and received veterans benefits for which he was not entitled,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “This sentence should send a clear message that the VA Office of Inspector General will work diligently with its law enforcement partners to ensure those who would defraud the nation’s veterans and the public will be caught and prosecuted.”

    “We continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to pursue and dismantle schemes aimed at exploiting critical COVID-19 resources, and we are grateful for today’s sentencing decision, which sends a strong message to help deter potential fraudsters,” said Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    “Today’s sentencing shows that we will not allow criminals to get away with exploiting government relief efforts that were designed to assist millions of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart fraudulently obtained government-backed loans, and his nefarious and unethical actions were for his own personal gain,” said Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “The FBI and our partners are committed to protecting the American people and the integrity of government assistance programs and will work to identify, arrest, and prosecute those who choose criminal activity and greed over principle and the law.”

    Stewart also applied for various loans on behalf of FGE under the federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. These programs were designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of people suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan applications submitted by Stewart falsely overstated the number of FGE employees and the amount of FGE’s payroll, two factors that were important in determining loan eligibility and the proper amount of the loan. In addition, Stewart used some of the loan proceeds for personal expenditures rather than to pay employees or for other appropriate business expenses. As a result of these fraudulent loan applications, Stewart obtained approximately $1,066,000 in government-backed loans during the pandemic.

    In a separate fraudulent scheme, Stewart, an Air Force veteran, submitted an application for benefits to the VA. The application was fraudulent in that Stewart falsely claimed that he also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Stewart created fraudulent documents that stated he attained the rank of Corporal in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged after receiving several awards and commendations, including the Rifle Expert Badge, Pistol Expert Badge, Meritorious Mast, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Certificate of Appreciation, and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal. Stewart, in fact, never served in the Marines. Based on his fraudulent application, he received excess benefits in the amount of $73,722.45 between September 2013 and October 2020.

    Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and Michael J. Missal, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick prosecuted the case.

    A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-5.

    DHS Agency
  • DHS Has Made Limited Progress Implementing the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation Program

    Executive Summary

    We determined DHS had not yet strengthened its cybersecurity posture by implementing a Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Program.  DHS spent more than $180 million between 2013 and 2020 to design and deploy a department-wide continuous monitoring solution but faced setbacks.  DHS initially planned to deploy its internal CDM solution by 2017 using a “One DHS” approach that restricted components to a standard set of common tools.  We attributed DHS’ limited progress to an unsuccessful initial implementation strategy, significant changes to its deployment approach, and continuing issues with component data collection and integration.  As of March 2020, DHS had developed a key element of the program, its internal CDM dashboard.  However, the dashboard contained less than half of the required asset management data.  As a result, the Department cannot leverage intended benefits of the dashboard to manage, prioritize, and respond to cyber risks in real time.  Finally, we identified vulnerabilities on CDM servers and databases.  This occurred because DHS did not clearly define patch management responsibilities and had not yet implemented required configuration settings.  Consequently, databases and servers could be vulnerable to cybersecurity attack, and the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the data could be at risk.  We made three recommendations for DHS to update its program plan, address vulnerabilities, and define patch management responsibilities

    Report Number
    OIG-21-38
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Fiscal Year
    2021