Senator Blasts Asset Forfeiture "Slush Fund" US Marshals Used for Granite Countertops, Salaries

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sharply criticized the US Marshals Service (USMS) for several expenditures that “appeared excessive and wasteful” and called for greater oversight for spending confiscated money. The money in question came from the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF), which is managed by the Marshals, who act as the “primary custodian” for managing and selling seized property.

The AFF consists of both criminal forfeiture, which allows the federal government to forfeit property only after a criminal conviction, as well as civil forfeiture, which can occur even if the owner has not been charged with any crime. Federal law enforcement vastly prefer the latter: A 2015 study by the Institute for Justice found that 87 percent of all forfeiture cases pursued by the Justice Department were civil in nature.

In a letter and memo sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month, Grassley identified multiple cases where the Marshals “wasted and misused money it received from the Assets Forfeiture Fund” or where its explanations for the expenses were “incomplete and misleading.”

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