Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Federal & State Law Enforcement Authorities Announce Formation of Special Unit to Fight Public Corruption LINK
Citizen Assistance Encouraged
Innovative Corruption “Button” Rolled Out
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — United States Attorney Mike Stuart and representatives from federal and state law enforcement announced today the formation of a Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit to investigate corrupt public officials, the misuse of public funds, campaign and election law violations and suspected criminal activity.
The Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit includes representatives from federal and state agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division; the Inspector General’s Offices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security; the West Virginia State Police; the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations; and the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office will assist in investigating campaign and election law violations.
“Maintaining public integrity is a tremendous priority for me and for the Southern District of West Virginia,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “Public corruption is a cancer on our system of government. If it’s not rooted out, the cancer grows. It causes the public to be cynical about the honesty of public officials and public institutions. There is an absolute burden on public officials and persons in a position of public authority to be honest brokers to protect the integrity of public service and the taxpayers’ wallets. Dirty politicians and dirty public officials must and will be held accountable for violations of the public trust,” Stuart continued.
U.S. Attorney Stuart explained that the Special Investigations Unit is focused on rooting out not only corrupt elected officials, but also federal, state and municipal employees who use their position for personal gain at the expense of the public. The Special Investigations Unit will investigate corruption that threatens public resources, the electoral process, and fair economic opportunities for citizens and businesses. The Special Investigations Unit is also charged with uncovering corruption within both public and private institutions that receive and misuse taxpayer dollars.
“The FBI is joining forces with our federal agency partners to combat public corruption and maintain public integrity throughout the southern district,” said Special Agent in Charge Bob Johnson. “The FBI looks forward to participating in this Special Investigative Unit with the USAO and our other federal, local and state law enforcement partners as we work to investigate allegations of federal crimes.”
“The Postal Inspection Service has enjoyed a close relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia through the years working intricate and complex fraud cases that involve the illicit use of the U.S Mails,” said Inspector in Charge Tommy Coke of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service welcomes the formation of the USAO’s Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit, a partnership that presents a tremendous opportunity for agencies to pool resources and expertise to ensure public officials are held accountable.”
“Investigating public corruption remains one of IRS Criminal Investigation’s highest priorities,” said Kimberly Lappin, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service. “Public trust is broken when elected or appointed officials commit crimes – most often triggered by greed and resulting in unlawful personal financial gain.”
“As part of the Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit, HHS OIG will ensure that taxpayer’s dollars are not wasted though public corruption and are instead used for their intended purpose of providing needed care and assistance for the most vulnerable members of our society – including the elderly, poor, and children,” said Maureen Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Regional Office of the Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. “Working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to vigorously bring those who steal from these vital public programs to justice.”
“Today’s announcement affirms our dedication to aggressively pursue those that choose to engage in illicit behavior that undermines HUD programs,” said Bertrand Nelson, Special Agent in Charge, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, HUD Office of Inspector General. “We will continue to work steadfastly as a partner of the Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit to bring cases such as these to prosecution.”
“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs OIG looks forward to joining with our federal and state law enforcement partners as part of the Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit,” said Kim Lampkins, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “Public officials who break the law or use their positions for personal gain undermine the work of government. The VA OIG is dedicated to investigating fraud, waste, and abuse, and we will contribute our expertise to this team to hold officials accountable for their actions.”
According to U.S. Attorney Stuart, “I am looking forward to working closely not only with my federal partners but also our West Virginia partners. The West Virginia State Auditor’s Office is an invaluable resource for uncovering waste, fraud and abuse and the WV Secretary of State’s Office brings unparalleled expertise in maintaining the integrity of our election system through the investigation and prosecution of those that commit campaign and election fraud.”
“I am honored for the Secretary of State’s Office to have been asked to join this very important effort to address public corruption in West Virginia. I commend U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart for bringing this partnership together to work toward that end,” said Secretary of State Mac Warner.
U.S. Attorney Stuart encouraged citizens to report corrupt activity by either reporting suspected illegal activity by visiting the USAO’s website (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdwv) and clicking on the “Corruption” button, an innovative new website reporting link, to route email tips to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or calling 1-800-659-USAO.
“West Virginia’s unfortunate history with corruption is well known, but so is this Office’s history of combating corrupt activity,” said U.S. Attorney Stuart. “Our efforts have been aided by a dogged media and courageous, conscientious citizens, business owners and public officials who have provided information about corrupt activity. We call on public servants, the vast majority of whom are honest brokers, to not look the other way when they see indications of corruption. We cannot overstate the importance of citizen participation in our fight against corruption, and we urge all citizens to assist us in this effort.”
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