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I'm glad this finally starting to get some attention. The NOAA feds have living it up at the cost of hard working fisherman. Handing out massive fines for violations that supposedly took place years ago and shutting many down. Then throwing "shredding parties" where they get rid of all of their wrong doing. They have more government vehicles than employees! And not the stripped down base models other government agencies have... Fully loaded with all the bells and whistles. Lubchenco, the administrator is about as anti-fishing as it gets! :mad:

 

Take a look at this article... She needs to GO!

 

February 16, 2012

IG probe finds NOAA fund still not tracked

 

By Richard Gaines Staff Writer

 

NOAA's Asset Forfeiture Fund, comprised of fines paid for Magnuson-Stevens Act fisheries violations, remains without controls that deter fraud, a newly published report by the U.S. Commerce Department inspector general has found.

 

Among key findings is that the fund — which has come to epitomize the past dysfunction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's police and litigating units — is not effectively monitored.

 

That failure creates circumstances that can still allow the misappropriation of money "without detection," the inspector general found

 

"NOAA has no assurance that all proceeds from assessed fines, penalties and forfeitures are received and accurately recorded," said the report, which was sent Feb. 8 to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco by Ann C. Eileers, principal assistant IG for audit and evaluation.

 

Agents and litigators are allowed to both collect, record and deposit fines and penalties, creating "opportunities for fraud," the report found.

 

U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown and Coingressman John Tierney, whose district includes Cape Ann, read the report Wednesday as a troubling sign that NOAA has not begun regaining public trust.

 

At the end of March 2011, the fund had an unrestricted cash balance of $7.5 million after a $3.9 million write-off of accounts receivable, according to an independent audit commissioned by NOAA.

 

Although the Asset Forfeiture Fund figured centrally in the law enforcement scandal unearthed by the IG's office in 2010, the problems predated the Obama administration; under congressional pressure and in the face of a series of reports and revelations from IG Todd Zinser, Lubchenco reassigned law enforcement leaders and promised a full cleanup.

 

The most aggrieved industry victims, including businesses and fishermen in Gloucester, were given a Cabinet level apology and shared more than $600,000 in reparations.

 

But the new report indicates that the Lubchenco administration has not fixed the system of penalties and fines, whose worst excesses were concentrated in the Northeast Regional Office, based in Gloucester at the Blackburn Industrial Park.

 

Responding to the report, Tierney called on Commerce Secretary John Bryson to "freeze all expenditures" from the fund until the IG is satisfied the fund is effectively controlled.

 

Tierney also reiterated his call for "a change in the leadership at NOAA. Tierney, Brown and Congressmen Barney Frank, who represents the port of New Bedford, and Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina have all urged President Obama to replace Lubchenco over a combination of the law enforcement scandal and a perceived anti-fishing ideology identified with Lubchenco.

 

Although Eilers wrote to Lubchenco, the official response came from Samuel D. Rauch, the acting head of NOAA Fisheries, who concurred with the general findings and recommendations. He added, however, that the agency was in the process of improving the "monitoring of deposits associated with the fund and to pursue and record fines and penalties ..."

 

"To the extent that the report provides recommendations not already underway," Rauch wrote to Eilers, "NOAA will modify its corrective action plan and begin implementing these further improvements."

 

"This reports reads like a manual on how not to safeguard your account," said New Bedford fisheries attorney Pamela Lafreniere. "The agency has had two years to rectify the problems listed by the IG reports on the AFF (Asset Fortfeiture Fund).

 

"Instead of solving the problems, at every level, at every stage, at every point, the agency found a way to fail in its duty to the stakeholders to maintain the AFF," Lafreniere said. "The AFF needs to be taken from this Agency that has illustrated that it is ill equipped to monitor or control the funds."

 

Kerry said the report showed that "a trust deficit still exists" at NOAA, "which has work to do in a hurry to accurately record and account for the hard earned dollars that fishermen pay in fines."

 

Recognizing what progress has been made to end "the culture of abuse and intimidation," he said the report "is a red flag that other problems have to be resolved" before "mistrust and suspicion" dissolve.

 

"NOAA can't count fish and they can't count dollars," said Brown. "They refuse to fix their own accounting problems, yet they expect fishermen to be perfect in accounting for their catches. The double standard between the regulators and the regulated is intolerable."

 

Last August, NOAA's Chief Financial Officer Maureen Wylie released an audit of the Asset Forfeiture Fund, covering the years 2005 to 2010, by a private firm; although Clifton Gunderson explicitly avoided reaching conclusive or evaluative statements and noted many "exceptions" — problems in record-keeping and accounting — Wylie covered the report with a press release claiming the auditor, which had been paid $427,000, found "no abuse of the fund."

 

IG Zinser disagreed publicly with Wylie.

 

"The numerous exceptions tell a different story than the news release tells," Zinser said in a telephone interview.

 

Zinser hired KPMG in 2009 to help his staff unravel the mysteries of the AFF as operated in the pre-Obama-Lubchebnco era. Discovered and reported was uncontrolled access to the fund by hundreds of agents and litigators who made charges against it for many dubious and improper reasons.

 

The fund helped finance a fleet of vehicles that outnumbered agents to use them, foreign travel to conferences unrelated to cases a luxury, undercover police boat.

 

In addition, the IG revealed that NOAA litigators used the fund for operating costs and to pay the administrative law judges in the U.S. Coast Guard system.

 

Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or rgaines@gloucestertimes.com.

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Imagine if all the govt graft and corruption were eliminated, both local and national. Think of the impact on tax payers. That and cut gas prices in half and there you go. I don't know why it's so difficult...

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It will never happen because they (the politicians) know we can't do anything to stop it .

Yes you can get rid of this person for x reasons , but as a whole we will never stop the waste and corruption in our Gov't .

This Gov't is not for the people by the people anymore , those days are in the past sadly .

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Good to see Sen Brown kicking some shins

 

I hate to tell you guys this but 2012 is an election year and the clown known as Scott Brown is discussing a boat that was allegedly bought with FINE MONEY back in 2008, four years ago. Maybe he should find something more recent to spout off about!

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I hate to tell you guys this but 2012 is an election year and the clown known as Scott Brown is discussing a boat that was allegedly bought with FINE MONEY back in 2008, four years ago. Maybe he should find something more recent to spout off about!

 

I haven't watched the video because its old news, however, I AM glad someones talking about it, and you ought to be as well.

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I know what you are saying bud.. I have no problem with fines issued for laws broken. I do have a problem with selective enforcement and excessive fines. Especially when 95% of it is happening in our (New England) back yard. Theses guys bust their ass and risk their lives to put food on the table for their family. While big brother comes in and gives issues fines so excessive they are put out of business. And just so you see I'm not talking out of my arse ( like normally :D)..check this out.

 

Fishermen receive apology, almost $650,000 in returned fines from feds

May 17, 2011|Beth Daley, Globe Staff

 

 

By Beth Daley

GLOBE STAFF

 

Acknowledging that some federal fish police “overstepped the bounds of propriety and fairness”, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is returning almost $650,000 in fines to 11 fishermen or businesses, the majority in the Northeast.

 

The unusual move — and apology - comes after years of accusations by fishermen of excessive fines and intimidation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office of Law Enforcement. Locke had appointed a special investigator last year to investigate 30 cases that a federal Inspector General’s office report said appeared problematic.

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“I expect our entire law enforcement program to uphold high standards and maintain the public’s trust,’’ Locke said today in a telephone press conference. The special investigator, Charles Swartwood III found 13 instances in the 30 of poor conduct or other problems. “Enforcement has to be fair, uniform and consistent,” Locke said.

 

The 11 fishermen and businesses — many of them from Massachusetts — were in a meeting with NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco this afternoon and unable to be reached immediately.

 

But a findings report showed that Swartwood found several instances of fishermen being excessively fined or threatened to be fined more if they did not settle cases. In one instance, Swartwood found that the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction — where fishermen catches are sold was the subject “of selective enforcement by NOAA.” He also found agents entered the auction house without a warrant.

 

In others he found that law enforcement agent put unfair pressure on a witness who was going to testify on another fisherman’s behalf, inappropriately fined a fisherman too much for a first offense among other issues.

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let me clarify that last post....

 

i just fear that because the gov did a horrible thing, or series of things, i fear the pendulum swing of public opinion will be too dramatic...

 

commercial fishing has a lot of warts, same as the government agency charged with regulating them....

 

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A Gov't agency should be held to a higher standard and be accountable to allow anything other than that

from an agency that is supposed to be policing our fishing industry is unacceptable .

 

If they did wrong and were fined fairly it's all good , I hate crumbs who rape our fisheries by poaching etc as much as the next guy .

 

But those involved in this should be fired .

 

Thanks TJ for the info , it's good to know something was being done to correct this .

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let me get this right they can afford to pay 60 grand in fines each and if they don't get caught it 60g's in there pocket:shock:and thats only what was returned....i guess it just part of the busness breaking the law.......they break the law and want a fair shake all busness have these problems board of health , fines for sewer discharges....haveing to clean the air(smoke stacks)....what about the point that we have to hire all these noaa people because they(comm fisherman) break the law whats fair about that. thats our taxes

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