Asset Forfeiture:

Marshals Service Controls Over Seized Assets

GGD-99-41: Published: Mar 26, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1999.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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GAO reviewed the U.S. Marshals Service's (USMS) asset forfeiture programs, focusing on: (1) controls over selected categories of seized assets--namely vehicles, vessels, real property, financial instruments, and general property--at four large USMS districts: the Central District of California, the Southern District of Florida, and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; and (2) whether selected seized assets at the test locations under USMS control were accurately accounted for and safeguarded against theft, loss, and deterioration.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO was able to account for all of the seized assets included in its review at the four USMS districts it visited; (2) in addition, based on GAO's observations and documentation in the case files, the seized assets generally appeared to be in good condition and were stored and secured properly, in accordance with physical security and property management provisions in storage and maintenance contracts; (3) for the categories for which GAO randomly sampled assets, GAO is confident, based on its asset selection methodology and its findings, that few if any of the seized assets in the categories reviewed were unaccounted for or improperly stored and secured at the four districts visited; (4) for the categories in which GAO reviewed all items and those in which GAO reviewed judgmental samples, GAO found that all of the items reviewed were accounted for and properly stored and secured; (5) GAO's results apply to the four districts and cannot be projected to all USMS districts; (6) although GAO was able to account for each selected seized asset, GAO identified several discrepancies between the physical location of the asset and the location listed on the district's computerized Consolidated Asset Tracking System (CATS) Assets on Hand inventory; (7) Department of Justice and USMS officials attributed these discrepancies to delays in updating CATS; and (8) when GAO was unable to locate assets as shown in CATS, other documentation permitted GAO to verify the disposition of the assets in question.

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