Horse News

BLM Employees Charged Taxpayers $799,000 for ‘Gift Cards’

By Joseph Perticone as published on CNSnews.com

“Brought to you by the same lovely people who are mismanaging our wild horses & burros into oblivion!” ~ R.T.

BLM_Logo(CNSNews.com) —  Wildfire management employees at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) used government charge cards to by $799,000 worth of gift cards from vendors such as REI, American Express, FredMeyer and Visa, according to a report released Sept. 30 by the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

When investigators requested supporting documentation such as purchase orders, receipts, and authorizing signatures, BLM staff claimed that they were “missing,” according to the report.

The inspector general describes widespread misuse of government-issued charge cards at the agency, making the “purchase card program susceptible to fraud, waste, and abuse.”

In 2010, BLM conducted an agency-wide audit of the purchase card program. Auditors traced $70,000 of the undocumented purchases to the Idaho State Office, where one employee was found to have purchased personal items and gift cards totalling  $41,276.33.

In May 2011, the investigation resulted in the suspension of BLM employee Maria Gilbert’s government credit card.  On Sept. 13, 2013 Gilbert was charged with one count of theft of government funds between 2007 and 2011, to which she pleaded guilty.

Two months later, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon sentenced Gilbert to two years of probation and six months of home detention for embezzling funds from the BLM’s Salem District Office. She was also ordered to pay full restitution totaling $41,276.33.

visa gift cardHowever, the remaining $757,723.67 of undocumented gift card purchases was not accounted for in the IG report.

In addition, the Carson City District in Nevada was unable to provide the investigators with timesheets, crew time reports, or firefighter time reports for a series of fires in 2010. The report described these inadequacies as making it “impossible to verify the accuracy of most payroll charges.”

It was also discovered that at least one employee in the BLM’s Southern Nevada District charged time to a fire nearly nine months after the blaze had been put out. In another incident, $3,200 of janitorial services was charged by Carson City District employees to “fire suppression” of several different fires that occurred in another state.

The BLM demonstrated “grossly inadequate” payroll controls, “weak internal controls over purchase cards, and poor compliance with Federal policy,” the inspector general concluded.

Inspectors also found problems with BLM’s fire codes. Every BLM employee charges expenses to a unique fire code associated with a specific wildfire.

But the IG report found that “internal controls related to how BLM associates costs with specific fires were inadequate to ensure that money was spent according to its allocated purpose.”

This lack of internal controls resulted in 26 individuals charging their time to one tree fire in the Carson City District. The overstatement of fire-fighting costs approached 95 percent, the IG report noted…(CONTINUED)

22 replies »

  1. Animal Advocates Sue Bureau of Land Management Over Western Horses and Withheld Public Records
    http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-advocates-sue-bureau-of-land-management-over-western-horses-and-withheld-public-records/#.VBi8qs10DXw.facebook
    Posted on September 16, 2014

    Roundups of Wild Horses on Public Lands Stir Controversy, Feature in Documentary Exposé

    WASHINGTON, D.C. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed this month against the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for withholding public records from filmmaker James Kleinert. The BLM has been investigating Kleinert and his film company, presumably in retaliation for making documentary films Wild Horses & Renegades, Saving the American Wild Horse, and Wild Horse Spirit, which expose the BLM’s cruel roundups of wild horses on public land and allege corruption within the Department of the Interior. “Roundups” involve herding horses into corrals using helicopters and separating them from their families. The national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has reason to believe that wild horses corralled by the BLM end up for sale for slaughter in Mexico and Canada. The federal lawsuit was filed September 3, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. ALDF is providing consulting assistance to Kleinert’s attorney, Daniel J. Stotter.
    The lawsuit, Kleinert v. Bureau of Land Management, alleges that the BLM violated its duty under FOIA to provide records documenting the BLM’s investigation of Kleinert and his film company as he filmed roundups over the last decade. The BLM was required to provide all records and respond to this FOIA request within 20 working days of receiving it. The BLM now has 30 days to file a response to Kleinert’s lawsuit.

    “Rounding up wild horses from public lands for the sake of private ranchers who want to graze cattle and sheep is outrageous,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Bureau of Land Management should be protecting wild horses, not virtually guaranteeing their slaughter or targeting filmmakers who expose what’s going on.”

    Copies of the lawsuit are available upon request.

    Like

      • Thank you again Louie. I will get the info and pass it along to my Legislators. The Dems keep asking me to contribute and my response is the same. You have done nothing to save our Wild Horses and pass the Safe Act so you get nothing from me!
        However, I do believe all the letters, emails and calls are receiving some notice. It all must stop…it just sickens me.

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  2. If this weren’t so serious I’d really go for docking an equal amount from their annual budget for next year. The problem is employees would retaliate on the horses as they are doing daily out in WY.

    About the only good thing I can say for the ranchers is this. All that money you’ll be raking in retiring your grazing rights, you can’t take that money with you. When our government is done fracking the land this planet won’t be able to sustain life.

    I just wish our horses wouldn’t have to suffer like they do. But BLM won’t stop once the horses are gone. They’ll start rounding up imperfect humans next. Didn’t we learn anything from Hitler?

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  3. Now your on the right path…

    Bringing up their dirty little secrets

    Next

    Look into the judge that rendered a decision in a court of law in favor of the BLM going against the written law and that judge’s dirty little secrets…

    Like

  4. I have posted this to every BLM facebook page along with posts to several other groups! Can’t wait to hear the response from BLM. Imagine it is going to take them to 2016 to get their budget together!!

    Like

  5. WHAT A JOKE, THEY ARE KILLING OFF OUR LEGALLY PROTECTED MUSTANGS and WASTING TAX PRAYER DOLLARS and NOW WASTING MORE TAX DOLLARS FOR FREAKIN GIFT CARDS, WE ARE $17 TRILLION IN DEBT………………. ENOUGH ALREADY, FREAKIN GOVERNMENT, THEY WILL VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION ANY CHANCE THEY GET!!!!

    Like

  6. Yes !!!!! Tell all their Dirty FILTHY secrets !!!! ! All for which the Mustangs suffer and pay with their freedom and their Lives for !!!!!!! !!!!!!@ GEEZE !!!!!!!! What in the hell, this Hitler regimen must end !!!!!! I no longer Blame the BLM , I blame us for allowing this Garbage to continue !!!!! !!!!!!!!

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  7. We’ve all known that any audit of BLM records would be a nightmare as they are so rogue they don’t feel they should follow any rules or laws. Not even those of their own agency. Many, many heads should roll and many should be in the unemployment line or behind bars.

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  8. Worth noting that if REI gift cards were involved here there are intimate financial ties between Sally Jewell (head of the Dept. of Interior and thus the BLM). Around the time she took office she was reported to have received a significant bonus from REI for her former employment there. At a minimum it seems like poor judgement. Is there anyplace the dollar value of the REI gift cards dispersed by the BLM has been compiled?

    Like

  9. FOLLOW THE MONEY
    Following the money (tax fraud) was how they finally imprisoned Al Capone.

    More (April 2002):
    “Investigation Finds Interior Department Employees Used Government Credit Cards At Casino, To Buy Jewelry” (Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle, 04/10/2002)
    Department of Interior’s inspector general report says DOI does not have proper controls to prevent credit card abuse. Some employees paid rent, bought jewelry or got cash advances at casinos.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/04/10/national1016EDT0550.DTL
    http://www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2002/54.html

    More (March 2012):
    “Leaked Email Says BLM Employees ‘Scamming the System’ with Credit Card Abuse”
    “The issue of credit card abuse has cropped up before in federal agencies. In 2003, a national audit of the Forest Service found $2.7 million in improper purchases, including payment to a caterer called Have Party Will Travel, and multiple instances where former employees were continuing to use government-issued credit cards well after they left the agency.”
    http://www.ksl.com/?sid=19475048

    Like

    • Could it be possible Martha ??? they are using these gift cards as employee bribery???? You know keep your mouth shut????????????? Its pretty low of them to do that, but would anyone put it past them??????

      Like

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