Thursday, October 28, 2004

Surprise! Corruption in Massachusetts!

US Marshall Gets Full-Time Pay For A Few Hours of Work

Runs Errands While On Duty

It's 2:58 on a gorgeous fall afternoon, and US Marshal Anthony Dichio is 35 miles from the federal courthouse in Boston where he works. As he steers his government-issued sport utility vehicle along the leafy roadways of Westford, Dichio lazily hangs his left arm out the window.

He'll be home in three minutes, having put in a total of three hours and one minute in the office.

For Dichio, it was a short, but not the shortest day he worked during 10 recent days on which the Globe observed him. On two of the days, he didn't go into the office at all.

On this day, Dichio arrived for work at 9:41 a.m., left at 12:42 p.m., and spent a leisurely two hours on the way home shopping at a Verizon Wireless store and dining alone at a Bertucci's restaurant.

The Globe investigation found that Dichio, who is paid $129,000 to protect judges, juries, and jailed suspects at Massachusetts' three federal courthouses, rarely puts in a full day on the job.

For the 10 days in late September and October during which the Globe observed him, Dichio worked an average of four hours and 17 minutes. For each of the days, according to time sheets obtained by the Globe, he was credited with a full eight hours of work.

The surveillance was conducted by two reporters, who were sometimes joined by a Globe photographer. The Globe staked out Dichio's Westford neighborhood, noted his departure time each day, and followed his route from there. On days when he went to his office, which is located in the federal courthouse in Boston, the Globe kept watch on the only exit of the building's garage, to record his time of departure from the courthouse and follow him home.

Dichio declined to comment to the Globe. But a spokesman for the director of the US Marshals Service, after being told of the Globe's findings, said the department regards the position as full time and would conduct a review of Dichio's performance.

''We are going to get to the bottom of this," said Donald Hines, a spokesman for director Ben Reyna. ''We will find out the truth and take whatever steps are appropriate. The director is concerned about these allegations."

The Marshals Service, Hines said, will examine the electronic security system at the federal courthouses in Springfield, Worcester, and Boston to check the times Dichio entered and exited. It will also review Dichio's cellphone and computer records, Hines said.

''Those will be looked at," he said.

Hines added that the marshal has discretion, as a manager, to set his own hours, so long as the operation is well managed.

Dichio's appointment as marshal of Massachusetts in August 2002 was highly controversial. A career State Police trooper who served on the security detail for former governor Paul Cellucci, Dichio's nomination was criticized because he lacked antiterrorism and management experience. The appointment was controversial in part, because the Marshals Service was being called on to play a larger Homeland Security role, including bolstering security at the nation's airports, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Dichio, however, had the strong backing of Cellucci, then US ambassador to Canada, and President Bush appointed him over the opposition of the state's two US senators and nine of its 10 US representatives.

Dichio supervises a staff of at least 120 people who are responsible for providing security at the federal courthouses in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester. They also protect the 17 federal judges in the state, as well as federal juries and witnesses, and transport jailed suspects to and from court appearances.

The Marshals Service also handles the apprehension of federal fugitives, asset forfeiture, and witness protection programs. In addition, marshals participate in various task forces with the State Police and other law enforcement agencies.

Dichio's three predecessors would not comment on his performance, but said that when they served as marshal, it was a demanding job that consumed at least 40 hours a week.

''There are some pretty heavy decisions the marshal must make affecting law enforcement," said James B. Roche, who became deputy director of the Marshals Service after seven years as the US marshal for Massachusetts in the 1980s. ''You were expected to work a normal business week at the office, unless on official business to one of the other courthouses," Roche said.

''The job demanded that you have a physical presence at the courthouse, and that's what I did," said Nancy McGillivray, who served from 1994 to 2002.

''I would do at least 40 hours a week at the courthouse or outside on business," said Robert Guiney, who held the position for three years prior to McGillivray.

Guiney and Roche were Republican appointees, while McGillivray was appointed by President Clinton.

Dichio's frequent absences from his office at the federal courthouse in Boston have been a subject of frustration for some high-level court officials. In addition, some marshals have contended that his lack of visibility is hurting morale and diminishing the stature of the Marshals Service.

Besides his federal salary, Dichio, 44, receives an annual pension of $45,000 from the state because of his 22 years service as a trooper, according to the state treasurer's office.

Globe reporters began observing Dichio on Sept. 28 and concluded their surveillance on Oct 20, a period covering 16 workdays. (Oct. 11 was Columbus Day, a federal government holiday.) Dichio took vacation days three times during the period, and Globe reporters lost sight of him on roadways around Greater Boston on three other days, so those days were excluded from the calculation.

That left 10 days for which the reporters directly observed Dichio and can attest to his whereabouts.

On those 10 days, the Globe observed Dichio working less than 8 hours each day. But, according to documents obtained by the Globe, time sheets submitted to the marshal's office's ''certified timekeeper," the clerk in the Boston office who oversees payroll administration, give Dichio credit for working a full eight hours for each of the days.

David B. Taylor, deputy chief marshal for Dichio, declined comment on the discrepancy. It's not clear who personally submits Dichio's weekly hours to the clerk.

''I can't give you an explanation," Taylor said.

Asked how often Dichio was in the Boston courthouse, Taylor said: ''It's the District of Massachusetts. He's either here, Worcester, or Springfield."

But the Globe found that when Dichio was not at the office in Boston, he was frequently and often leisurely doing errands near his home in Westford, 36 miles from Boston.

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, for example, for which timesheets report he worked eight hours, Dichio did not leave home until shortly after noon.

Wearing shorts, a polo shirt with a US marshal's insignia, and leather clogs, he headed to the nearby Market Basket grocery store in his US Marshals-issued black Ford Explorer. He never went to the courthouse.

The policy of the Marshals Service, provides that government-issued vehicles are ''for official use," though the conduct of ''reasonable personal business is allowed," according to Hines, the spokesman.

At the Market Basket, he pushed a shopping cart down the aisles, sampling cheese at the deli counter and exchanging pleasantries with other shoppers. He left the store with five bags of groceries at 1:22 p.m., returned an hour later for bathroom cleaner, and stayed home the rest of the day.

On Friday, Oct. 1, Dichio went out to gas up his personal car at 10:36 a.m., stopped by the grocery, then the dry cleaners to pick up a woman's blouse. He was home the rest of the workday.

On most days, the former trooper drove the highways at speeds frequently exceeding 85 miles per hour to Boston, passing cars and changing lanes.

Read the whole story at Boston.com

Unfortunately, this is happening by the thousand in Washington D.C. and across the U.S.A.


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