By Robert M. Hausman
Some allegations made against Carl J. Truscott, former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been substantiated as the result of an investigation concerning alleged mismanagement and misconduct by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) within the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
The OIG issued the report of its investigation last October following the receipt of an anonymous letter dated January 20, 2006 addressed to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and U.S. Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch in which allegations were made that Truscott mismanaged government funds, committed travel abuse, engaged in improper hiring practices, and created a hostile work environment, among other issues. Truscott resigned from the Bureau last August 4th.
Specifically, the complaint alleged that Truscott had mismanaged appropriated funds by excessive use of his Executive Protection Branch security detail; by incurring cost overruns in connection with an ATF reception at a law enforcement conference; and by making unnecessary design changes to ATF's new headquarters building project.
The complaint also alleged several other inappropriate or wasteful expenditures, including improperly using ATF funds to pay for the meals of individuals having no connection to ATF's mission, dedicating funds to furnish and equip field division training rooms and gyms after unnecessary expansions, and ordering the unnecessary construction of a garage to house a National Response Team truck.
In addition, the complaint alleged that Truscott committed travel abuse in connection with trips to London, New York City, Boston, and Ottawa. The complaint also alleged that he hired an unqualified former U.S. Secret Service colleague whom he subsequently awarded with a bonus and pay raise. Finally, the complaint alleged that Truscott created a hostile work environment for two administrative assistants by causing them to prepare for and serve lunches to him and his guests.
Two additional issues that surfaced during the investigation were that Truscott exercised poor judgment in pursuing an aggressive hiring policy against the advice of senior ATF management officials, and that Truscott committed misconduct by directing ATF staff to assist his nephew in producing a video about ATF for a high school project.
The OIG investigation substantiated many of the allegations against Truscott and found that he exercised poor fiscal judgment in many instances although his financial decisions were not found to constitute misconduct. Many of Truscott's decisions relating to hiring ATF personnel and to various construction projects would have had a more adverse impact on ATF operations had they not been reversed by others.
The OIG investigators noted they were "troubled by Truscott's lack of acceptance of responsibility" for many of his own decisions. "From relatively minor issues, such as decisions on how to furnish the ATF director's suite in the new ATF headquarters building, to major police directives, such as how many new employees to hire, Truscott attempted to deflect responsibility to his subordinates, misrepresented the amount of involvement he had in the actions, or otherwise sought to distance himself from his own decisions." The investigators were also troubled by his failure to seek or accept the counsel of experienced ATF managers on a range of important issues.
Truscott was responsible for ordering several hundred thousand dollars worth of upgrades to the director's suite in the new ATF headquarters building, including expensive millwork and unnecessary amenities, the OIG investigators determined. Truscott also devoted "an excessive amount of time to the redesign and upgrading of his suite and the gymnasium in the new building, immersing himself in details at a level that we would not expect of the Director of a major law enforcement agency," the report noted. After ATF was told by a congressional staff member not to spend any FY 2006 appropriated funds on the new headquarters, senior managers took the lead in scaling back the project and cancelled many upgrades requested or authorized by Truscott.
Truscott, who is an ardent devotee of physical fitness, was found to have set aside $750,000 in the FY 2006 budget to purchase equipment and furnishings for gymnasiums and training rooms in other ATF buildings, but later claimed he could not recall setting aside these funds. The decision to expand the ATF physical fitness facilities was made at a time when Truscott was aware that ATF was facing a shortage of adequate work space for personnel in its various offices.
Truscott also ordered a garage to be built at a cost of $156,000 to house an ATF truck. While Truscott was acting within his discretion in approving the garage's construction, the OIG questioned his forthrightness on the matter when later questioned by the OIG.
Assistance to Nephew
The OIG found Truscott improperly authorized his subordinates to assist his nephew in producing a video about ATF for a high school project.
Truscott and about 20 ATF employees "extensively assisted the nephew with his project in a variety of ways, including providing background information, writing scripts, providing stock footage, conducting on-camera demonstrations and tours, and being interviewed. Substantial employee time and ATF resources were used over an approximately 10-month period to complete and critique the video," the OIG report says, adding that Truscott "had sufficient knowledge of the extent of resources being used on the project to know that it was inappropriate."
By authorizing the use of ATF resources for his nephew's project, the OIG said Truscott violated various ethics regulations, including 5 CFR section 2635.702 (use of public funds for private gain); 5 CFR section 2635.101(b)(9) and 2635.704 (relating to unauthorized use of government property); and 5 CFR section 2635.705(b) (use of subordinate's official time).
Another allegation made against Truscott was that his security detail was excessive. The OIG investigators substantiated this by noting his security "was extensive and involved a significant drain on ATF resources," when given ATF's fiscal circumstances and Truscott's low threat assessment.
Many resources used to provide Truscott's security came from field divisions, which provided special agents, vehicles, and even a medic when Truscott traveled to the field. Truscott also sometimes used field division personnel and vehicles in connection with non-official excursions.
The OIG also questioned the arrangements for several of Truscott's trips. Truscott and eight other ATF employees traveled to London, England, in September 2005 to meet with U.K. officials to discuss a possible ATF detail position with London's Metropolitan Police Service. The investigators questioned the need for four ATF security personnel, as arrangements were made with the U.K. police in advance to provide security and the meeting was held within a secure facility. The OIG also questioned why two ATF employees, whose overall purpose for participating in the trip was never made clear, traveled to London five days in advance of Truscott's arrival and left one day after Truscott's departure. The overall cost of the trip for the nine ATF employees was over $37,000.
The OIG investigators concluded that excessive ATF resources were used to escort Truscott to and from an October 2005 trip to New York City to attend a charity dinner for law enforcement agents killed in the line of duty. The trip involved the use of two Executive Protection Bureau agents, five field division agents, and three vehicles to escort Truscott to and from the function.
Similarly, in January 2005, Truscott traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to meet with the new ATF headquarters architect and to tour one of the architect's buildings, and then traveled to Ottawa, Canada, for official meetings with U.S. Embassy and Canadian officials, ATF employees, and to visit buildings that had been designed by the architect. Truscott was accompanied by five ATF headquarters employees in Boston. An additional five field division employees were involved on the Boston leg of the trip. The OIG investigators questioned Truscott's judgment in "allowing such an extensive use of resources for the trip" and were "troubled" by his later denial of responsibility for the use of these resources.
ATF's IACP Reception
ATF's reception aboard a yacht at the September 2005 IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) convention in Miami Beach, Florida was poorly planned and resulted in a potential claim by a charter boat company against ATF for additional costs based on the alleged attendance of several hundred more guests than originally planned for, the OIG investigators noted. However, it was not found that Truscott was responsible for the planning of the event.
Use of ATF Funds for Lunches
Truscott often used ATF funds for lunches in his office with guests. The investigators identified three questionable instances in which Truscott hosted lunches in his office that did not appear to "promote personal relationships necessary to enhance the performance of ATF," the applicable standard for appropriate use of ATF's funds for such purposes. While the amount of funds used for these lunches were small, the investigators were concerned by Truscott's shifting of responsibility for the use of ATF funds onto others. The investigators were also concerned that Truscott did not seek sufficient guidance from the ATF Chief Counsel's Office on the proper use of such funds, notwithstanding his assertions that he had done so.
Creation of a Hostile Work Environment
Truscott directed two female administrative staffers to assist in preparing for and serving lunches to him and his guests, the report indicates. Contrary to Truscott's statements to the investigators, they found that he conveyed his instructions to the administrative assistants through another employee regarding how he wanted the meals prepared and served. That employee confirmed, for example, that on at least one occasion, Truscott directed that one of the administrative assistants announce, "Lunch is served."
Although the investigation did not find that Truscott violated any regulations or agency policies through these actions, they concluded he exercised poor judgment by requesting his subordinates to perform such functions which were not part of their job duties.
Since Truscott resigned as the ATF Director on August 4, 2006 the OIG made no recommendations for remedies against Truscott regarding his actions.
The complete document, "Report of Investigation Concerning Alleged Mismanagement and Misconduct by Carl J. Truscott, Former Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives" comprising several hundred pages, is available from the Firearms Business Library at a cost of $75 including shipping. E-mail: FirearmsB@aol.com or FAX to (802) 479-3308 to order.
Benczkowski Named ATF Chief of Staff
ATF Director Michael J. Sullivan has announced the appointment of Brian A. Benczkowski, a lawyer, as ATF chief of staff.
Benczkowski, 37, most recently served as majority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, where he handled violent crime, cyber-security, civil justice, Department of Justice reauthorization, and other issues for Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI).
Prior to this service, Benczkowski served as staff director and senior counsel in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice from 2002-2004 and from 1997-2000 as counsel to U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM), a pro-gun lawmaker whose brother owns a firearms retail business (Charlie's Sporting Goods) in Albuquerque.
Two Shot at Tulsa Gun Show
Two men were injured at the Wanenmacher's Arms Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma last October when a vendor accidentally discharged a shotgun.
The men suffered only minor injuries, officials said. Investigators will forward a complaint against the vendor of misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm to the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office. The vendor's name was not released.
Joe Wanenmacher, the gun show's manager, said the vendor was examining a double-barreled .410-gauge shotgun that he thought was loaded with a snap cap. However, when the vendor pulled the trigger, the shotgun fired a blast through his display case, Wanenmacher said. The pellets ricocheted off the floor and struck two men standing nearby.
Cpl. Jerry Holloway of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Dept. said investigators recovered one spent shell and a live shell in the gun's other barrel. One of the victims was wounded in the back of the head and the other in the right side of the abdomen. Both were treated at a local hospital and released.
Wanenmacher said loaded guns are not allowed at the show. "This would have never happened if the exhibitor had been following the rules," he said. "It was something that could have easily been prevented. Afterwards, we packed him up and moved him out. He will not be welcome back."
In 1994, a similar accident happened at the show when a vendor accidentally fired a .45 caliber pistol. The bullet ricocheted off the floor and struck two men in the feet. In 2000, a 10mm pistol discharged as a man was unholstering it at the show. The bullet struck the person next to him in the leg. The Tulsa gun show is billed as "the world's largest" with 3,800 tables.
Gun show promoters routinely check firearms being brought into the shows by consumers and require vendors to have their firearms tied to prevent discharge.
Winchester Ammo Gets 3rd Qtr. Sales Gain
Olin Corp.'s Winchester Ammunition division's sales for the third quarter of 2006 were $104.6 million compared with $100.4 million in the third quarter of 2005.
The increase reflects the combination of higher selling prices partially offset by lower volumes, the company said. Third quarter 2006 Winchester segment income was $5.9 million compared to $4.7 million in the third quarter of 2005. Improved selling prices and reduced operating costs were partially offset by lower volumes and higher commodity and other material costs. For the full year 2006, the company expects Winchester earnings to improve over 2005 levels.
Olin Corp.'s results for its operations overall in the third quarter were that net income was $56.2 million, or .77 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $31.4 million, or .44 cents per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2005. Third quarter 2006 earnings include a $24.8 million reduction in income tax expense associated with a settlement of the tax treatment of capital losses generated in 1997 and other tax matters. Third quarter 2005 results included pretax environmental recoveries of $18 million and a pretax gain on the sale of land of $0.9 million. Sales in the third quarter were $851.9 million, compared with $599 million in the third quarter of 2005.
U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Passes Vote
United Nations member countries voted October 26 to create an international treaty to curb the illicit trade in guns and other light weapons, despite strong opposition from the United States.
As many as 139 countries voted in favor of the resolution while 24 abstained. The United States was the only country that opposed the resolution. The U.S. opposed the creation of the treaty as it would prevent the supply of arms to freedom fighters attempting to overthrow a dictatorial regime.
The author publishes two of the small arms industry's most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. He also offers FFL-mailing lists to firms interested in direct marketing efforts to the industry. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.
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