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  • ATF...Your tax dollars at work..

    Quick and Curious?

    WASHINGTON — Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used a secret, off-the-books bank account to rent a $21,000 suite at a Nascar race, take a trip to Las Vegas and donate money to the school of one of the agent’s children, according to records and interviews.
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    Agents also used the account to finance undercover operations around the country, despite laws prohibiting government officials from using private money to supplement their budgets, according to current and former government officials and others familiar with the account.
    The revelations highlight the lax oversight at the A.T.F. that allowed agents and informants to spend millions while avoiding the normal accounting process. The Justice Department’s inspector general, who is investigating the secret account, criticized the A.T.F. recently for mismanagement and said the agency did not know how many informants it had or how much they were paid.
    The New York Times revealed the existence of the bank account in February, prompting an investigation by the House oversight committee. The Justice Department, which oversees the A.T.F., has denied any wrongdoing, and the department has refused to say whether the bureau continues to operate such secret accounts, which the government called “management accounts.”
    The A.T.F. has also refused to say who authorized the account, which was created by agents based in Bristol, Va., who were investigating tobacco smuggling. One government official said the bureau regarded the account as a hybrid of government funds and private money, a combination that is not authorized under federal law. Ryan Kaye, an A.T.F. supervisor, is quoted in public court documents as saying the agents received “verbal directives” from unidentified officials at headquarters to open the account.
    The arrangement dates back at least to 2011, court records show. Records show that a pair of A.T.F. informants who ran a tobacco warehouse in Bristol, Jason Carpenter and Christopher Small, opened the account. The informants helped the bureau’s investigations into tobacco smugglers, who move cigarettes across state or national borders to avoid taxes.
    Sometimes, the A.T.F. agents used the money for expenses that normally would be paid from the agency’s own budget, such as leasing cars and renting warehouses under fake names to conceal the government’s involvement in undercover investigations. The account also helped pay for a trip to a tobacco convention in Las Vegas in early 2012, according to a former law enforcement official and a former industry official. The officials said the A.T.F. supplemented its travel budget with money from the management account.
    Current and former government and industry officials who discussed the case did so on the condition of anonymity because the Justice Department has argued successfully to keep nearly all the records in the case sealed. The Times has been fighting since last summer to make the documents public.
    Other expenses, such as renting a 16-person suite at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, had no obvious connection to law enforcement operations. A.T.F. agents, along with some community members, used the suite in 2012 for the Irwin Tools Night Race, a Nascar event, according to two people who worked closely with the bureau at the time. A receipt obtained by The Times shows the suite cost $21,000.
    Agents also donated money from the account, according to documents and interviews, including thousands of dollars to the high school and volleyball team of the daughter of an A.T.F. agent in Bristol. The agent, Thomas Lesnak, is now retired and did not respond to messages seeking comment. He has previously dismissed suggestions that anything was done improperly.
    A.T.F. agents also had their credit card bills paid with money from the account, according to a former law enforcement official and two former industry officials. It is not clear whether the bills involved personal credit cards or government-issued cards, but both possibilities might violate federal laws.
    Government spending typically requires a strict audit trail, but the money deposited in the bank account came from an unlikely source. A.T.F. agents told the informants to buy untaxed cigarettes, mark up the cost and sell them at a profit. The sales made millions of dollars, which poured into the account.
    A.T.F. agents concealed the scheme using phony shipping documents and middlemen. Those transactions are at the heart of a federal racketeering lawsuit brought by a tobacco cooperative, which says it was defrauded.
    The A.T.F. did not answer any of a list of questions about its policies and the expenses, not even whether management accounts remain in use and, if not, whether they were ever considered legal. The agency issued a statement acknowledging problems with undercover tobacco operations, but only from 2009 until 2011.
    “Since that time, A.T.F. has implemented substantial enhancements to its policies, and has markedly improved leadership, training, communication, accountability and operational oversight,” the statement read.

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/sec...wxf?li=BBnb7Kz
    Dispite our best intentions, the system is dysfunctional that intelligence failure is guaranteed.
    Russ Travers, CIA analyst, 2001

  • #2
    Does this really surprise you?

    “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” -- Albert Einstein

    The US Constitution doesn't need to be rewritten it needs to be reread

    Comment


    • #3
      Alcohol, Tobacco, and Females... sounds like a good time to me!

      Party on Wayne!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by slick24 View Post
        Does this really surprise you?
        I didn't post it out of surprise.
        Dispite our best intentions, the system is dysfunctional that intelligence failure is guaranteed.
        Russ Travers, CIA analyst, 2001

        Comment


        • #5
          I've been saying for years that the alphabet soup needs to be streamlined. A glut of administrative overhead and bureaucracy not only costs more than it should, it also lends itself to corruption. The Alphabet Soup can be distilled down to about 3 agencies based on mission.
          Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
            I've been saying for years that the alphabet soup needs to be streamlined. A glut of administrative overhead and bureaucracy not only costs more than it should, it also lends itself to corruption. The Alphabet Soup can be distilled down to about 3 agencies based on mission.
            Yup
            ARRRR! International Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19th
            IN MARE IN COELO

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            • #7
              While I have always been grateful to the ATF field offices for the support they (unlike the glory boys at the FBI and DEA) give local agencies, the organization as a whole leaks like a sieve, and nobody knows what anyone else is doing.

              If they would hand off the guns and bombs to Homeland Security and let what was left tend to Federal law on booze and tobacco, I think it would work much better.
              Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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              • #8
                BATFE, its always sounded like it should be a store name as far as I am concerned. With the ATFE initials for products it sells.

                Comment


                • #9
                  to be honest it's the same in the private business world, the managers and executives are the ones that waste the most resources and are most likely to do something like this.
                  They are the ones that get to go to conventions and seminars in Vegas, or some such place.
                  The worker bees are too busy keeping money coming in the door.
                  Wall Street suits probably blow these amount of dough in a week just on hookers.
                  But that is private money, not public money...who do these guys think they are? Congressman?
                  Dispite our best intentions, the system is dysfunctional that intelligence failure is guaranteed.
                  Russ Travers, CIA analyst, 2001

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ATF...Your tax dollars at work..

                    ATF - yes.

                    MY tax dollars "at work"? No.

                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Urban hermit View Post
                      to be honest it's the same in the private business world, the managers and executives are the ones that waste the most resources and are most likely to do something like this.
                      They are the ones that get to go to conventions and seminars in Vegas, or some such place.
                      The worker bees are too busy keeping money coming in the door.
                      Wall Street suits probably blow these amount of dough in a week just on hookers.
                      But that is private money, not public money...who do these guys think they are? Congressman?
                      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
                        I've been saying for years that the alphabet soup needs to be streamlined. A glut of administrative overhead and bureaucracy not only costs more than it should, it also lends itself to corruption. The Alphabet Soup can be distilled down to about 3 agencies based on mission.
                        And/or abolished or merged with others. ATF and DEA should blend into FBI, IMO.
                        TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                          While I have always been grateful to the ATF field offices for the support they (unlike the glory boys at the FBI and DEA) give local agencies, the organization as a whole leaks like a sieve, and nobody knows what anyone else is doing.

                          If they would hand off the guns and bombs to Homeland Security and let what was left tend to Federal law on booze and tobacco, I think it would work much better.
                          Dropping the "guns and bombs" part of the portfolio would be a start.

                          The supposed non-guv'mint bank accounts of the OP are something the various Intel. agencies, especially CIA are noted for. While such "private" accounts and funding can help undercover/covert operations, they open a wide door to misuse and difficult accountability.
                          TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
                            And/or abolished or merged with others. ATF and DEA should blend into FBI, IMO.
                            Not entirely.

                            The DEA requires a completely different mindset that the FBI is simply incapable of meeting.

                            ATF could easily lose firearms and explosives, but the alcohol and tobacco issues are such that a specialized agency is needed.

                            Frankly, I would like to see the FBI remade into a completely different agency, with strong efforts to drop the current political culture.
                            Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                              Not entirely.

                              The DEA requires a completely different mindset that the FBI is simply incapable of meeting.

                              ATF could easily lose firearms and explosives, but the alcohol and tobacco issues are such that a specialized agency is needed.

                              Frankly, I would like to see the FBI remade into a completely different agency, with strong efforts to drop the current political culture.
                              Amen, the FBI has been a political machine since day one, but not in the partisan nature, in the blackmail or we'll ruin your life kind of political power.
                              JEH was the master manipulator. The bureau has never changed its stripes, there are just more Hoover's now.
                              Dispite our best intentions, the system is dysfunctional that intelligence failure is guaranteed.
                              Russ Travers, CIA analyst, 2001

                              Comment

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