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Sticky Fingers at the Justice Department and U.S. Customs

by J. Orlin Grabbe

Ass, cash, or grass.
Ain't nobody rides for free.
--Source (a Reno band)

Now, you are wanting to know what I know. All right. I'm trying to tell you. I know that I do not intend to educate you or anybody else in the United States government, unless they pay for it, ma'am. This is a matter of no more free rides.
--Deposition of Charles S. Hayes, Inslaw vs. The United States of America, April 2, 1996.

The U.S. government expects to get everything for free. The FBI, for example, likes to come around demanding to know what people know, and to not pay them for the information. But federal law specifies that certain types of information must be paid for.

The Justice Department and U.S. Customs currently owe millions of dollars to thousands of people for information leading to asset seizures But rather than honoring the obligations they have under U.S. federal law, officials in these departments have been keeping the money and lining their own pockets.

In one case in Texas, a customs official applied for $100,000 owed to Party X for information relating to illegal contraband. This corrupt official masqueraded as Party X, was paid $100,000, and forged Party X's signature to the receipt.

In another case, Customs wanted to make payment of $903, after having deducted certain "expenses". When the recipient-to-be asked for an official copy of the accounting in the case, he was told he would have to "FOIA" the information.

In other words, he would have to submit a request under the Freedom of Information Act in order to find out what exactly he was being paid for, and how this payment was calculated. One suspects there are hidden official expenses, such as "$25,000 for a cup of coffee".

Here is a copy of the first letter relating to this payment:

Department of the Treasury
U.S. Customs Service
3 Jun 1996
631697 TJS

Charles Hayes
c/o Special Agent in Charge
U.S. Customs Service
7123 Pearl Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44130

Dear Sir:

You are hereby referred to the Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland, Ohio, for the payment of Compensation No. 19187 in the amount of $903, as authorized by title 19, United States Code, section 1619. The reward is for original information received concerning a violation of the customs or navigation laws, or another law enforced by the United States Customs Service, and pertains to Louisville Case No. 85-4115-00004 et. al., and the Office of Investigations Case No. CN02FR537511.

Director, International Trade Compliance Division

Four months later, the local office of customs got around to informing the intended recipient of the $903. Here is a copy of the second letter:

Department of the Treasury
U.S. Customs Service
Cincinnati, Ohio
October 9, 1996
Certified Mail #P-340-642-915

Mr. Charles Hayes
[address omitted]

Dear Mr. Hayes:

A payment of Award of Compensation in the amount of $903.00 as set forth in the enclosed letter has been forwarded to our office. It will be necessary fo you to contact Special Agent Paul Carpenter at (606) 767-7083 to make arrangements to sign for receipt of the award payment. Our office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Paul Chambers
Resident Agent in Charge
Office of Investigations

Charles Hayes called the Cincinnati office and asked for an accounting of the $903. That is, a written explanation of what the payment was for, and the procedure by which the dollar figure was determined. "I'm sorry, you'll have to FOIA that, Sir," was Special Agent Paul Carpenter's response, according to Hayes.

I can smell those $25,000 cups of coffee brewing in the background.

Hayes himself claims the government owes him $1.3 million in MORDI in the case, which was related to money laundering and drug dealing, and involved the largest gem seizure in U.S. history. Hayes recently reiterated this claim in a deposition given to the U.S. Department of Justice, which is defending the U.S. government against claims it stole the PROMIS software from Inslaw, Inc.

Hayes made clear his general opinion of Justice Department integrity: "I am reluctant to give some information to the Department of Justice, because I don't trust them. They lie." (Deposition of Charles S. Hayes, Inslaw, Inc., and Hamilton versus the United States of America, United States Court of Federal Claims, Congressional Reference No. 95-338X, April 2, 1996.)

The government also steals, according to Hayes. Justice Department attorney Beth Cook asked Hayes about his government contracts. "The other contract that I have is . . . a contract with the government where the government owes me approximately a million dollars, ma'am, for MORDI, for the largest gem seizure, precious gem seizure, in the United States of America. That was with the United States Customs department. It is in Lexington, Kentucky. As of this date, the government has not paid me one penny since 1985, and they owe me."

Beth Cook had many questions to ask Charles Hayes. Miscellaneous inanities like the following:

Q. Are you familiar with the COBOL programming language? COBOL, C-O-B-O-L.

Q. Mr. Hayes, are you familiar with the Basic programming language.

Q. Mr. Hayes, do you have your own personal computer?

Q. Do you turn on the computer and start running it?

Q. Mr. Hayes, have you ever used anything with Windows 95 on it?

Q. Mr. Hayes, do you know what a disk operating system is?

Q. Mr. Hayes, what is machine code?

Q. Mr. Hayes, what is a compiler?

Q. What types of word processing software are you familiar with?

Q. Have you ever used any spread-sheet programs?

Q. Mr. Hayes, do you know what a data base financial system is?

Apparently Ms. Cook forgot to ask anything about C++ or blinded signatures, so her computer education is not yet complete. Charles Hayes refused to answer these questions without proper payment of tuition: "I'm entitled to one thing, Ms. Cook. If I have to educate you about software, I'm entitled to just compensation. By gosh, how much are you going to pay me an hour, Ms. Cook? Let's get a deal going here. I need to make money. How much are you going to pay me an hour of just compensation to teach you about computers? . . . Ma'am, what I'm trying to say to you, you want me to educate you when you don't even want to pay me my million point three you owe me. . . . the DOJ . . . They don't want to pay me. They lied to me. I have been waiting over 10 years for my money on MORDI. And then here you want me to come along and educate you."

Beth Cook was certainly full of curiosity questions. Here is a sampling:

Q. And what's the difference between a Cray and a Syntech?

A. What's the difference between a Cadillac and a Volkswagon?

Q. Could you describe what the difference is?

A. The Cray would be the Cadillac.

Q. Yes, but why do you say that?

A. It's got a lot more stuff to it, ma'am. It would take me hours, ma'am, to describe to you what it takes to put the computer together. . . .

Q. Mr. Hayes, are you familiar with the Basic programming language.

A. What do you mean by Basic? Now, a lot of people have different terms and terminology of this for Basic, ma'am. . . . There is a Basic in Maryland [an apparent reference to the NSA] that they call Basic, it totally different from anybody else's Basic, ma'am.

Q. Well, why don't you explain to me what Maryland Basic is?

A. Why don't I explain and teach you how to run a computer? Ma'am, you are asking me, in other words, to be an educator and teach you how to run a computer. I don't think the government has paid me for this, and I will not be your instructor. ...ma'am, you work for the United States government. I think that you need to go . . . ask the people that work for the United States government in Maryland what the difference in Basic is.

Q. Well, do you know what it is?

A. Oh, probably.

Q. So, why don't you tell us?

A. Because, in other words, you want to be educated, ma'am. This has no bearing on exactly what we're talking about here. I'm sorry, ma'am. . . . But you know, you didn't ask for anything about where the government still owes me $1.3 million, in other words, in this MORDI situation that's out of Famularo's office in Lexington . . . I would like to have it for the record that I would sure appreciate you all paying your bills. . . .

Q. I haven't gotten through your comparison of CAST with INSLAW's PROMIS. I want to know what you know about CAST itself. What does it do?

A. It's a tracking program.

Q. It's a tracking program?

A. Uh huh (affirmative response).

Q. What does it track?

A. Maybe three rabbits and a dadgone hound dog, ma'am. Why don't you go ask DEA what they use it for?

At another point Ms. Cook insists on knowing what computer language the Defence Intelligence Agency's (DIA's) version of PROMIS is written in:

A. Ma'am, there might be two languages that it could have been wrote.

Q. All right. Whichever one of the two languages?

A. Ma'am, I don't want to give it to you. I am sorry.

Q. Why not, Mr. Hayes?

A. Because I am not going to educate you.

Q. You are just telling me the language that the program is written in.

A. Yes, ma'am. Did you hear what I said to you, ma'am? . . . we can sit here and play this little game all day long, Ms. Cook, as long as you want to. And you know something? You don't do your homework. You want to be lazy and you don't want to listen to a thing I say. Now, ma'am you be obnoxious if you want to. Lord, I hope some day you get married and you have a husband you can be that obnoxious with, but you are not going to be that way with me because I am not going to tolerate it.

Come to think of it, why do we tolerate government free rides?

October 21, 1996
Web Page: http://www.xs4all.nl/~kalliste/