Several Drug Enforcement Administration agents who were investigated for their roles in alleged sex parties in Colombia received agency bonuses of up to $68,600 during the probe, a Justice Department internal review found.
The review found the DEA approved bonuses for eight of the 14 agents involved in the sex scandal even though they had been “subject to discipline for significant misconduct within three years or while a misconduct investigation was still in progress.”
The agents, many who held “top secret” clearance, received individual financial bonuses ranging from $1,500 to $32,000 despite discipline, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found. One DEA official, a regional director involved in the scandal, received $68,600 in bonuses between 2010 and 2014.
Agency policy prohibits employees from receiving promotions, awards or favorable action for three years following discipline for significant misconduct or while the offense is under investigation. Before handing out any favorable personnel action, the DEA is required to do an “integrity check” to ensure any three-year window is not open.
Horowitz said, “In many instances, we could not determine the reason why exceptions were made and we were unable to determine when, or if, an integrity check was performed, the results of the integrity check, or the reason for the approval of the proposed personnel action, because the DEA was unable to provide the [inspectors] with complete documentation.”
The investigation into the agents began in 2010, but many of the details, including reports of DEA agents attending alleged sex parties arranged by Colombian drug cartels and consorting with prostitutes, emerged earlier this year and congressional hearings were held. DEA administrator Michele Leonhart eventually resigned.
Inspectors found of the 14 investigated, one is now retired from the DEA, two are in the same overseas position they were in at the time of the incidents and the remaining 11 are currently agents or supervisors in various DEA offices.
Michael Dixon, DEA’s acting deputy chief of inspections, said new procedures have been implemented to flag employees recommended for bonuses who may have ongoing misconduct investigations or other disqualifying incidents.
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