Highlights of the Officer Media Salary Study

When you’re discussing pay raises or additional benefits, it might help to have demonstrable data.

Sponsored by 5.11 Inc., the 2020 Officer Media Group Salary Survey Summary comprised of about 22 questions of our readership. The full report runs 10 pages, to save you from data overload, here are some highlights.

​​Download the full report at Officer.com/21140916.

One of the questions identified rank/position. Bear in mind that this was not just a survey for executive personnel, but covered all ranks from the most rookie patrolman to chiefs and sheriffs. It makes sense that the largest responding group represents the largest population within the law enforcement community that we serve: that being management, supervisory, and command staff personnel. As a result, just over 48% of our survey respondents held the rank of sergeant on up through major. Those who identified as executive or command staff accounted for another 14% of the responses while detectives/investigators/inspectors made up another 9%. Combined, those groups represent roughly 2/3 of our respondents. Keep that in mind as you read the remainder of the following.  

When asked what described the respondent’s type of agency, just over 56% answered “municipality,” while another 20% answered county sheriff’s or police department. Those two groups alone make up well over 3/4 of our respondents with state police adding another 8.6% and “Other” contributing 13.4%.

For agency size, approximately half were 100 or more employees. The other half (48.9% versus 51.1%) were less than 100 employees. It’s worth noting, however, that “employees” is different from sworn strength and the division of employee size (20 to 49, 50 to 99, 100+) is such that plenty of agencies with less than 50 sworn officers but enough support staff to push the total employee count over 50. The most recent surveys/polls we’ve seen on sworn strength still places approximately 55% of all law enforcement agencies in the country with less than 50 officers in sworn strength. It’s important to realize that most agencies in the country, even the largest ones, don’t have over 500 to 1,000 officers and those that do you can find on NFL team jerseys. How many NFL teams are there? There aren’t even that many cities with police departments over 1,000 officers.

In terms of actual salary, the largest bulk of respondents are paid between $25K to $100K. Quite surprisingly, 25.4% report being paid between $100K to $150K. What should be of larger concern is that there were actually respondents who get paid less than $25K per year. Unless they are part-time officers, that is absurd.

On a final note, we asked the takers if their salary had increased or decreased this year from last year. While the largest majority saw the cost of living increase, 2.4% saw salary decreases and some of those decreases were more than 15% of their total salary.
 
By the Editorial Staff | Officer Media Group

The Hardest Budget to Come

As chiefs of police and sheriffs face what will probably be one of the most difficult years of budgeting, here are some thoughts. Many this year will have to make the decision between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’ Yes, this was something taught to me as a child but often we forget when we see the new shiny widget. Some programs, outreaches or initiatives could be on the chopping block with monies diverted or lost.

One thing that I keep reminding the new chiefs and sheriffs of is that you are the chief executive officer (CEO) of an organization, you are not just the figurehead. You must run your department as a professional organization and not a frat house. This year with the impacts of Covid-19, on-going social unrest, and the possibility of the defunding some police missions, the hard decisions will be made this year. These upcoming decisions will have long-term implications. Be the leader and decide wisely.

Unfortunately, a lot of ​chiefs and sheriffs use “personality-based decisions” in purchasing. Every one of us has our personal likes and dislikes. We have our brand preferences, our favorite company or our favorite contractors.  Often, we make our purchasing choices with these personality-based influences rather than hard data. Now with the budgets tighter than ever imagined, one must perform due diligence for nearly all budget-based decisions. Going back to our favorite product brand, you must now decide is a name recognition worth the price? Is there something comparable and more economical and here goes the dilemma?

Another area to revisit is our existing contracts. Every organization has vehicle maintenance, dry cleaning, building maintenance, and other support services contracts. These line items are often in the budget often without review. All too often departments have always used a particular company just because this was the way it has always been. Granted, sometimes it was a political decision made for you by elected officials. ​Reality is that politicians have to ​”​spread the wealth​”​ to their supporters, whether you like it or not. 

 
In a perfect world, all want to see the local vendor, or the local smaller business get these lucrative contracts. This only makes sense to keep local tax money within the local tax base. When reviewing existing contracts and requesting competitive bids, you will ruffle the feathers of most businesses, but it has got to be accomplished. Be honest with them, state that you are performing due diligence, after all you have to be the guardian of taxpayers’ money. The main point here is that you must ensure the process is the best for all concerned. You can defend your selections, while trying to preserve your funding.

Spreadsheets

I strongly suggest you create a spreadsheet of upcoming renewals and review them. Memberships to professional organizations will be scrutinized, as well as renewal of service contracts for technology, projected replacement of outdated technology, fleet management and all maintenance and replacement costs. Elected officials may not ​understand proper law enforcement practices. I have heard in public meetings, “I still hunt with my granddaddy’s shotgun, why do you need new shotguns​?​” and “Why do you need expensive uniforms, why can’t you get the rental uniforms like the public works employees wear​?”​ Yes, there are more foolhardy statements that I have had to field in the past. Tip – be prepared for anything this year. “Needful things” has to be on the defense spreadsheet, review the expendables you have gone through for COVID and recent unrest, you have to keep your quartermaster stocked for bad days.

Personnel

In this current climate I feel we will see those able to retire submitting their papers. Some who are fed up may vest or withdraw their retirements, invest in a private retirement fund and walk out. The personnel shortages will be another war cry of do more with less. Granted salaries and related personnel costs make up the biggest slice of your budget pie. Politicians will view this as a means of closing the budget gap. Be ready to guard your staffing and operational requirements. Recruiting will probably be more difficult than ever; I foresee department jumping. Better benefits, better working/living conditions will attract officers who can leave without retirement impacts. Care for your staff, they are your most important resource.

Training Solutions

One thing which is particularly disturbing will be the attack upon the training budget. This is often the most vulnerable for most political leadership cannot see this as a tangible item. All they can see is police officers not working on the street, getting paid to sit in a classroom. As training budgets get tighter, you must begin to seek other non-traditional sources for training. Many insurance trusts who service governmental organizations offer some free training. Since the department is underneath their insurability umbrella, ask for their training offers or grants.  Research government​-​supported training where all you have to do is host the training. Now, never say it is ​”​free training​”​ for there is no such thing as free training – you have to have overtime for backfill​ and​ there may be some expendables (classroom supplies or hall rental). The goal is to seek partnerships you can build to establish free training.

Training conferences may be viewed with skepticism for the fees, travel and per diem adds up quickly. My best suggestion is inquiring if attendees present a topic or assist in some way with the conference operations, could they receive complimentary attendance or some perks to lessen the costs.

Most state POST councils are now approving virtual or on-line training options which helps with the scheduling and gives you more latitude on meeting state requirements. To me there is no ‘minimum training’ but seek quality, suitable training to meet the demands that your officers are facing.

Nuances of 2020

The first reality is that most municipalities or counties will be facing budgetary shortfalls this year and probably until there is a full economic recovery. Most all are facing reductions in employment taxes (people not working), sales taxes (shops closed or going out of business) and if they offer utilities services (water/sewer for example) many customers cannot pay or legislation preventing cut-offs for non-payments inhibiting this income. Some of their own sacred line items may also face cuts – donations to the arts, recreation and other public donations/support to non-profits. What will convolute the next few months is that most budget processes should have been completed, but due to no public meetings or face to face meetings all are behind schedule. Chiefs​ and sheriffs​ need to schedule telephone or email time to answer and defend questions to the budget staff and elected officials.

New demands

If your agency does not have body cameras and other recording systems (vehicle and station), expect to be purchasing them. In the quest of transparency, it is going to force your hand.

New training demands will come about. ​There will be m​ore mandated training with no financial assistance. Whether it be bias training, use of force, de-escalation, or whatever; you will need to insert this in the budget. Problem is the ​f​ederal ​government ​or ​the s​tate will manda​​te this midstream of next fiscal year without warning, so you will have sticker shock.​

In closing, with the ‘defund the police’ movement some missions may be reassigned to another agency. Mental health calls have been discussed in the past. Have the data of the number of mental health calls from the past and calculate the percentage they were from calls for service.  We have been through something like this in the past. It created social experiments in the 1980s and other times where draconian backlashes have occurred for political changes and motives. We will get through this, but it will be hard, tedious work. If a chief or sheriff expects this year or next year for that matter to be a budget process as usual, you are sadly mistaken. You will earn your salary on this one. Good luck and keep up the good work.


By William L. Harvey | Officer.com
 
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Missouri Sheriffs Rally at the State Capitol in Jefferson City

Some 50 sheriffs stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Missouri’s capitol on Wednesday, saying the new rules from the Missouri Supreme Court must change – and that they needed lawmakers’ help in accomplishing that.

The sheriffs shared how the new rules favor criminals instead of Missouri’s law-abiding citizens and reminded lawmakers that the justice system was based on taking care of victims.

Sheriffs also discussed how the state has fallen behind in payment of jail per diems – to the tune of $33.4 million as of December 2019.

Chief justice: Missouri public defenders need more funding

For several years officials with the Missouri State Public Defender System have said they need more funds to hire more lawyers. The head of the Missouri Supreme Court announced his support for that cause Wednesday.

During the annual State of the Judiciary address, given to a joint session of the Missouri Legislature, Chief Justice George Draper III talked about how many of the lawyers he faced when he served as a prosecutor were public defenders.

“Speaking from the perspective of both a former prosecutor and a former trial judge, I can tell you the system simply does not work without a sufficiently funded and staffed public defender system,” Draper said.

Missouri’s public defender system began in 1972 as the state’s response to a 1965 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found the federal Constitution’s 6th Amendment right to counsel includes poor people who can’t afford their own attorney.

In Missouri, the public defe​​nder’s office is appointed to a criminal case only when there’s a possibility of a jail or prison sentence and the defendant can’t pay to hire a lawyer. Historically, the system’s attorneys have had a large caseload and constant turnover.

Document: Missouri State of the Judiciary 2020 VIEW DOCUMENT

“To be sure, all attorneys in public service work long, hard hours, and many are underpaid and under-recognized,” Draper said. “However, if criminal cases cannot be moved efficiently through the system because of overloaded attorneys, we risk leaving those who are guilty on the street, those who are not guilty unable to return to being productive members of society, and victims and their families powerless to find closure and move forward with their lives.”

During a December meeting with Cole County judges, Justin Carver, who heads the local public defender office serving Cole, Miller and Moniteau counties, told judges there was a wait list of nearly 340 cases. Of that number, nearly 200 were from Cole County.

Carver noted the oldest case dated back to June. He said the majority on the wait list are cases where the defendant is not being held in custody. They look for the oldest cases of those in custody as the ones to deal with first on the wait list.

Carver is authorized to have seven assistant public defenders.

One way to help relieve the caseloads for public defenders and the courts has been the use of alternative courts. In Wednesday’s address, Draper noted Missouri now has more than 100 counties served by more than 120 treatment courts — adult, juvenile, family and DWI courts.

“Because of House Bill 547, which you also passed last year, we will have treatment courts established in every circuit in the state by August 2021,” Draper told legislators Wednesday.

Cole County has Drug Court, DWI court and Veterans Court. Prosecutor Locke Thompson said they are trying to develop another alternative court in the future.

Draper also asked lawmakers to continue efforts to increase the pay of the 3,600 people who work in the state court system.

“We simply cannot ask these people — who reside in your communities and work in our court system — to live below the value of their service,” Draper said. “On their behalf, we thank you for your appropriations over the past few years of salary increases to bring our lowest-paid staff to at least the base of where our classification and compensation study shows they should be. However, if we want to retain the good employees we have and be able to recruit high-quality workers as positions become open, we need to move our staff toward market salary goals.”

 


By Jeff Haldiman | News Tribune

Some Counties, States Working to Keep Inmates on Medicaid

More local and state officials are working to ensure that low-income residents stay on Medicaid when they go to jail.

Federal law bars Medicaid recipients from accessing their full federal health benefits while incarcerated. But officials from both parties have pushed for two key changes to ensure little or no disruption of health benefits for pretrial detainees who have not been convicted of a crime and make up most of the 612,000 people held in America’s county jails.

In recent years, officials have increasingly implemented a stopgap measure to help inmates more seamlessly reactivate their Medicaid coverage upon release from jail or prison.

And a bipartisan coalition of county sheriffs, commissioners and judges are now lobbying federal lawmakers to change a long-standing policy and let pretrial detainees retain coverage while in custody.

The National Association of Counties and the National Sheriffs’ Association, which are supporting the effort, estimate that it would cost the federal government in excess of $3 billion a year.

“Just because you’ve been in jail for a short period of time, that shouldn’t automatically knock you off the (Medicaid) rolls,” David Davis, the Democratic sheriff of Bibb County, Ga., told Stateline. “You then have to go through enrollment all over again.”

Some county officials say the policy is discriminatory, allowing people who can post bond to retain their benefits, but denying coverage to indigent individuals. They also say the policy collectively burdens local and state governments with billions of dollars in additional health care costs.

Beyond that, some officials say the denial of federal health benefits to pretrial detainees disrupts inmate medical care, a key factor that can increase their chances of landing behind bars again.

“Jail is not a hotel stay, nor is it vacation,” said Brett Clark, Republican sheriff of Hendricks County, Indiana. “But this issue is a hurdle and a barrier for folks who need to get into treatment programs.”

Concern regarding what’s known as the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy – which dates to 1965 – has grown as sheriffs, jailers and wardens have seen limited budget increases for a jail population that’s one of sickest and most vulnerable in the nation.

Once someone is booked in jail, city and county governments are required to pay for the costs of their health care until that person is released. If convicted, federal or state officials typically pick up the tab for medical treatment through the remainder of the sentence. But the disruption to medical care is linked to high risks of mortality, medication lapses and recidivism.

The only time inmates can use their Medicaid benefits is when a practitioner orders a hospital admission that lasts longer than 24 hours.

In a statement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Stateline it encourages states to shift from terminating Medicaid enrollment for pretrial detainees – which forces people to reapply after their release – toward suspending enrollment.

The number of states that suspend enrollment, making it easier for inmates to reactivate their Medicaid benefits, has more than tripled, from 12 to more than 40, during the past six years.

In Washington, sheriffs and police chiefs now provide booking data to the state’s health authority, which allows it to reinstate Medicaid coverage to returning residents automatically.

In New York, the state health department has applied for a federal waiver to reactivate inmate Medicaid benefits 30 days before their release.

However, 1 in 6 states – including Missouri and Wisconsin – still terminate Medicaid enrollment, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And reapplying can take weeks or months.

Officials in those states lack the technology to make similar changes, or, in some cases, misunderstand the exclusion policy, according to the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

But officials in some of those states, including Utah and Idaho, say they’re now transitioning to suspending enrollment instead of terminating and reactivating it.

“Medicaid has never been a popular program with our state policymakers,” said Karen Crompton, director of Utah’s Salt Lake County Human Services. “Now, some local officials are pushing Congress to make changes to the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy.”

The issue of jail health care, aside from addiction treatment, was largely left out of the recent federal criminal justice changes – including the First Step Act, which broadly seeks to reduce recidivism, in part by increasing access to addiction treatment.

Last fall, four Democratic senators introduced legislation to prevent pretrial detainees from losing their federal health benefits. (A companion House bill is expected in the near future.)

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, one of the sponsors, told Stateline that the measure would help counties and states further combat the opioid and mental health epidemics, while also keeping law enforcement officers safer.

At least two Republicans – U.S. Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter of Georgia and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana – have expressed concerns about the price tag potentially attached to the bill.

But some county officials from both sides of the aisle say such financial concerns are misguided, and, in some cases, are fueled by stigma against inmates.

“The federal government is getting a break here,” said Nancy Sharpe, a Republican county commissioner in Arapahoe County, Colorado. “These people are entitled and already on the rolls. Counties are instead picking up the cost for something the federal government should be paying for.”

Since the late 1970s, America’s 3,160 local jails have been required to provide “adequate” medical treatment to inmates, according to standards that emerged from the landmark ruling in Estelle v. Gamble and subsequent cases.

But the federal government doesn’t cover local jail or state prison health costs.

Greg Champagne, the Republican sheriff of Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish, said the federal policy denying pretrial detainees access to their health benefits violates their constitutional rights under the Fifth and 14th Amendments.

To understand why, the sheriff offered an example of two inmates arrested on charges of drunken driving. The one who has the money to make bail retains federal health benefits, but the second, who can’t make bail, loses those benefits.

“We shouldn’t treat someone differently because they don’t have the money for bail,” Champagne said.

A report from the National Association of Counties, which represents over 2,400 U.S. counties, notes that the Social Security Act prohibits Medicaid spending for “inmates of a public institution.”

But Blaire Bryant, an associate legislative director for the association, said the 55-year-old federal policy never distinguished between detainees who are still considered innocent and people who are convicted and sentenced to state or federal prison.

“Pretrial detainees, but for their housing status, would be still on their medical benefits,” said Bryant, who has led the group’s efforts to lobby to end the Medicaid exclusion for pretrial detainees. “And it places an unfair burden on jails.”

In a 2017 policy brief, University of Michigan researchers argued states and counties could apply for matching funds for Medicaid-covered services if the federal exclusion policy were repealed.

For decades, most states instead kicked anyone booked in jail who couldn’t post bond off their Medicaid rolls. Not only does this force pretrial detainees to use county-funded health care, which is typically more limited than their Medicaid coverage, it also disrupts care after release, Bryant said.

Local and state officials, recognizing this issue, have sought to reduce disruption upon release by suspending inmate participation in the federal health program. This bureaucratic tweak allows jails to help inmates approaching their release date to get their Medicaid reinstated faster.

Democratic Sheriff Jerry Clayton, who oversees the Washtenaw County jail in Ann Arbor, Michigan, devotes staff to help with the paperwork needed to re-enroll inmates near release.

Clark, the Hendricks County sheriff, said his staff’s effort to suspend Medicaid enrollment – and later reactivate it – can reduce the risk of recidivism and save taxpayer dollars.

Sharpe, the Arapahoe County commissioner, said current policy requires the county to spend nearly a quarter of its annual jail health care budget – $1.2 million – on pretrial detainees who lose access to Medicaid benefits.

Because Arapahoe, and not the federal government, covers this expense, inmates receive fewer services such as counseling and workforce training, Sharpe said.

Clayton in Washtenaw County budgets roughly $1 million for inmate health care each year. Of that, one-tenth is spent on pretrial detainees. But the sheriff says a single inmate booked with a serious medical condition – like someone in need of dialysis or HIV care – could potentially gobble up the full budget.

“If someone needs significant surgery, the hospital bill can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Clayton said. “We’re always one or two inmates away from blowing our budget. It’s an untenable position.”

Faced with growing awareness of the problem, Republican and Democratic local officials have turned to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to change the Social Security Act to allow pretrial detainees to keep their federal health benefits.

The costs are “a burden to bear for rural and less affluent counties – areas that are predominately Republican,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told Stateline. “The cost is a big issue, and the complexity of the administrative burden. I think both things will lead to Republican support.”

Despite the support for the bill from the county and sheriff associations, Clayton fears the lobbying effort over a potential $3.3 billion annual price tag will be a hurdle in getting the bill passed.

Helen Stone, a Republican commissioner in Chatham County, Ga., said that she’s repeatedly lobbied the office of her U.S. congressman, Carter, the Republican who has expressed concerns about the potential price tag, but has so far been met with “reluctance.”

Carter told Stateline that county officials must collect more data to provide him and other lawmakers with a fuller understanding of the issue’s national scope.

Cole Avery, a spokesman for Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican who expressed similar concerns, told Stateline that the senator is interested in a form of the policy that could make it to the president’s desk.

For that to happen, he believes a bill with a “narrowed scope” that focuses solely on mental health and addiction would have a better chance of advancing through the Senate.

Clark, for his part, said that stigma toward inmates, and the broader indifference toward investing in jail conditions, may dampen widespread support for the federal bill. Some Americans think that a “tough on crime” attitude requires a more punitive approach to inmates, he said.

“No sheriff sees this as weak on crime,” Clark said. “We see this as smart on crime. It’s always a challenge to see the big picture.”

Without changes at the federal level, Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman said, counties will find little to no relief for rising jail costs, which will limit their ability to improve hospitals, roads and schools.

But several local officials told Stateline that legislation is only the first phase of the fight to change this policy. If the bill hits roadblocks in Congress, the county and sheriff associations may potentially file a lawsuit to challenge the policy’s constitutionality.

“What we’re doing now doesn’t make sense,” said Michael Adkinson, Republican sheriff of Walton County, Florida, which suspends Medicaid benefits. “It’s not saving money. It’s cost-shifting.”

 

By Max Blau | Stateline.org

Clay County Must Cover Jail Contracts, Attorney Fees

The Court of Appeals Western District agreed on Dec. 5 that the Clay County Commission must restore nearly $1 million in funding it had removed from the county sheriff’s budget.

The appeals court said the cuts, which left Sheriff Paul Vescovo’s department without enough money to cover the costs of the county detention center, were as “disturbing as they are indefensible.” And in a rare move, the court also said the county could be on the hook for some of the sheriff’s attorneys’ fees.

Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert — who was a Clay County circuit judge until his appointment to the Western District in 2013 — said the county commission’s actions “left the Sheriff with no option but to litigate.” Judges Alok Ahuja and Gary D. Witt concurred.

Fritz Riesmeyer and Chris Tillery of Seigfreid Bingham, who represented the sheriff, said the ruling sets parameters on the discretion that county officials have in making spending decisions, at least when it comes to funding that is necessary for county departments to carry out their required duties.

“You have to make a good-faith effort to fund a complete financial plan for the upcoming year,” Riesmeyer said. “I think that’s where this decision is huge and will be cited here on out in these battles.”

The case also hinged on the unusual facts proven at trial.

“It’s not usually going to be the case where they don’t budget to pay their own contracts, but here they did,” Tillery said.

Lowell Pearson, a partner with Husch Blackwell’s Jefferson City office who represented the county, declined to comment.

On a 2-1 vote, the Clay County Commission had approved a 2019 budget of about $1.79 million for the sheriff’s office — less than its prior year’s budget and lacking sufficient funds to pay contracts with vendors for the jail, which houses about 300 detainees. The budget also stripped Vescovo of authority to move money around within his budget to pay those previously approved contracts.

The sheriff alleged the cuts were in retaliation for his investigation of allegations that the county budget officer, Laurene Portwood, had tampered with public records. Portwood was indicted on state charges and later entered into a deferred-prosecution agreement.

In August, Daviess County Associate Circuit Judge Daren Adkins, who was specially appointed to the case, ordered the county to allocate about $755,000 to cover existing contracts for detainees’ food and health care and an additional $230,000 for the detention center’s administrative costs. He didn’t disturb any budget decisions that weren’t covered by contract.

The Western District’s ruling also noted that it was stepping into a legislative body’s appropriations process. Under a set of state statutes known as the County Budget Laws, Missouri’s counties are required to meet certain financial standards — including that budgets “shall contain adequate provisions for the expenditures necessary” for county offices and that department heads must be consulted about cuts.

Gabbert was careful to note that counties aren’t required to simply accept whatever budget a department head proposes and that counties can trim budgets to address revenue shortfalls, so in many cases court action would be inappropriate. However, Gabbert wrote, Clay County’s case had “unique facts,” including that the county had continued to enter into contracts even while it cut the money to pay for them.

“Once the County was bound by the vendor contracts, the amount due on those contracts became the minimum sum necessary to adequately fund those lines within the Sheriff’s department’s budget,” Gabbert said.

In addition, the judge wrote, the county provided “no justification whatsoever” for its decision and had “knowingly underfunded the Sheriff in a manner calculated to make it impossible for the Sheriff to carry out his lawful duties for reasons that are as disturbing as they are indefensible.” Gabbert added that the county “has made no attempt to rebut the alarming assertions” that the cuts were connected to the sheriff’s investigation of the county budget officer.

“Despite the County’s impassioned argument that these facts are irrelevant and that the law does not allow a writ to issue here, we cannot overlook facts as egregious as these,” Gabbert wrote.

Adkins’ earlier ruling had denied Vescovo’s request for attorneys’ fees. The Western District agreed there was no statutory authority for the sheriff to recover those fees, but it added that this was one of the unusual cases where “special circumstances” allowed the court to award them.

“If [Vescovo] is now forced to pay his attorney’s fees from his existing budget appropriations, the County would be gifted yet another opportunity to punish the Sheriff by refusing additional appropriations to offset his legal fees in this case, and we are under no illusions as to how the County would likely respond to a request for additional appropriations,” Gabbert wrote.

Once again, Gabbert noted the rarity of a court forcing one government entity to pay another department’s legal bills.

“Though one could characterize this case — where funds would be transferred between county coffers — as robbing Peter to pay Paul, here we are considering if Peter should pay Paul’s lawyer,” Gabbert wrote.

The Western District remanded the case to Adkins to determine the amount, though it declined to award fees for the appeal.

“Our criticisms of the County’s conduct stopped when they appeared before this body, and we found their appeal, though unsuccessful, to be an illuminating and well-argued treatment of a novel and challenging legal problem,” Gabbert wrote.

The case is State ex rel. Vescovo v. Clay County, WD83130.

 By Scott Lauck | Missouri Lawyers Weekly

Justice Department Announces Landmark Money Mule Initiative

Federal, State, and International Law Enforcement Join Forces Against Transnational Schemes

Attorney General William P. Barr and law enforcement partners today announced a concentrated effort across the country and around the world to halt money mule activity.  Money mules assist fraud schemes by receiving money from victims, many of them elderly, and forwarding proceeds to foreign-based perpetrators.  During the two-month initiative announced today, U.S. law enforcement disrupted mule networks that spanned from Hawaii to Florida and from Alaska to Maine.  Actions were taken to halt the conduct of over 600 domestic money mules, exceeding a similar effort against approximately 400 mules last year.  The Department of Justice also tripled the number of criminal prosecutions brought against money mules as compared to last year’s initiative.

Attorney General Barr thanked the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch for coordinating the effort.  The coordinators recruited a broad coalition of law enforcement partners, including the U.S. Secret Service, the IRS Criminal Investigation, the Department of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Attorneys General for the States of Indiana and Wyoming.  The U.S. initiative coincided with the European Money Mule Action (EMMA), https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/public-awareness-and-prevention-guides/money-muling, a simultaneous global effort to halt money mule activity announced by Europol today.

U.S. federal and state law enforcement activity included the following:

Actions were taken to halt the conduct of more than 600 money mules, spanning over 85 federal districts.

Actions addressed a variety of elder fraud scheme types, including grandparent scams, romance scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams, IRS and Social Security Administration imposter scams, veteran and social security benefit redirection scams, and technical-support scams.

Law enforcement interviewed more than 550 individuals and served over 500 warning letters on individuals who recently served as money mules for fraud schemes.  The letters informed recipients that they could be prosecuted if they continue aiding and abetting fraud schemes.

More than 30 individuals were criminally charged, in part, for their roles in receiving victim payments and providing the fraud proceeds to accomplices.

Search warrants were executed to secure evidence from money mules who knowingly aided and abetted fraud schemes, including a number of transnational elder fraud schemes.

“Protecting our senior citizens from criminals who target them is one of the Trump Administration’s highest priorities,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Money mules –wittingly and unwittingly – supply the lifeblood of transnational elder fraud schemes. This landmark initiative has significantly impaired certain ways criminals steal from its elderly victims. The Department of Justice and its federal, state, and international partners are committed to shutting down these despicable enterprises that exploit the most vulnerable in our society.”

“The Money Mule initiative highlights the importance of partnership to stop fraud schemes, and it sends a message to all who are engaged in money mule activity that they will be caught and prosecuted,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “I want to thank our state and local partners for all their efforts to protect the American people from these threats.”

As part of the money mule initiative, members of the Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force—which the Attorney General established in June 2019 to combat foreign elder fraud schemes—brought criminal cases alleging that defendants knowingly funneled fraud proceeds to perpetrators including:

On Nov. 27, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced an indictment against Nnamdi MgBodile for his alleged role in a romance scam and business email compromise fraud;

On Nov. 25, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida announced an indictment against alleged perpetrators of a veteran and social security benefit redirection scam, which involved extensive use of money mules; and

On Nov. 14, the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch announced the indictment of six individuals for an alleged mass mailing fraud scheme in which a co-conspirator was charged with knowingly receiving payments from elderly victims and supplying them to scheme leaders; and

Additional criminal cases were brought as part of the two-month money mule initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Kentucky, the District of Arizona, the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, the Northern District of Oklahoma, the Southern District of New York, the District of Puerto Rico, the Eastern District of Missouri, the District of Delaware, and the District of Rhode Island.

The above charges are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

“Since Congress passed the Mail Fraud Statute over 100 years ago, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has protected citizens from fraud schemes,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  “Deceptive solicitations take advantage of the American public with promises of easy money, when in reality, the scammers are the only ones making money. Postal Inspectors are working hard to protect the American public and ensure their confidence in the U.S. mail.”

Attorney General Barr thanked the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for its support of the money mule initiative.  Financial analysis and data supplied by FinCEN allowed law enforcement to identify and prevent money mule activity and elder fraud schemes, as highlighted by a report FinCEN issued today.  Attorney General Barr also expressed appreciation for financial institutions across the nation that identify suspicious activity and report it to FinCEN, enabling federal, state, and local law enforcement to take rapid action against ongoing schemes.

Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors.  In particular, this past March the Department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 260 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep.  The Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of EAPPA.  In October, the Department also partnered with the Oak Ridge Boys and AARP in issuing a public service announcement to raise awareness about the grave financial threat posed by elder fraud.

The Department of Justice has an interactive tool for elders who have been financially exploited to help determine to which agency they should report their incident, and also a senior scam alert website.

Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at this website or by calling 1-800-225-5324.

Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.