It’s been a tough month for the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Just yesterday, lawmakers grilled the agency’s commissioner over a report alleging that DEA agents have participated in several “sex parties” with prostitutes funded by drug cartels. A week before that, one DEA officer was charged with stealing Bitcoin from the federal government and laundering money while working at the center of the investigation into the Silk Road last year.
Now, the agency is back under the spotlight once again as a former official pleaded guilty to defrauding the government out of more than $113,000.
Maryland-based DEA employee Keenya Meshell Banks, who was in charge of issuing government credit cards to federal workers, admitted to issuing 32 cards to dozens of fake DEA employees that she created. Federal investigators said Banks then used the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs around the Washington, D.C. metro area.
The DEA isn’t the only agency to be hit with credit card fraud. Last year, federal investigators alleged that employees of Jobs Corps, a Department of Labor training program, were blatantly abusing government-issued charge cards that were intended for travel but instead used on personal items like trips to the hair salon and cellphone bills.
At the time, auditors said Jobs Corps workers racked up at least $250,000 in improper purchases at taxpayers’ expense, while flagging another $4 million as “questionable transactions.”
Likewise, employees at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service have also been flagged for improper use of government charge cards. The problem has been so widespread across the federal government that Congress passed legislation back in 2012 requiring agencies to frequently review their purchase card programs.
The Office of Management and Budget also issued new guidelines warning that workers caught improperly charging their cards could face dismissal, or like DEA employees Banks, criminal charges. Banks is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29.
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