This story is ridiculous on so many levels. A level of paperwork that is beyond the pale; a fishermen being fined $19,000 for catching 20 extra codfish, government workers taking the bevy of fines to buy cars and fund junkets.... and to top it off, when it came time to investigate the mess, a 'shredding party' where the official admitted up to 80% of the paperwork went bye bye. Grounds for prosecution? Nope. No one was found to obstruct justice. Indeed, said top official moved to another six figure job in NOAA. Ah, the good life in government; I am pleased to pay for his/her (I'm sure) 6 figure pension the next 30 years.
4 minute video
- ... dozens of New England fishermen charge their livelihood is at risk. Sinking under the weight of 700 pages of confusing federal regulations.
- An investigation by the Commerce Department's Inspector General found the regulations were unduly complicated. Federal agents overzealous and abusive. Excessive fines including one for $270,000 for administrative errors.
- The inspector general found the $30 million the fishermen paid in fines went to a NOAA fund with no oversight. The fund was used by regulators to buy more cars (202) than agents (172,) and for trips to fishing conferences in exotic locales such as Australia, Malaysia and Norway. It was also used to purchase a $300,000 luxury vessel used by government employees for fishing trips.
- And according to this memo obtained by CBS News while under investigation NOAA officials in Washington had a shredding party destroying garbage bags full of documents. The shredding truck pulled up right outside NOAA's enforcement headquarters, where the agency's top cop later admitted he destroyed 75 percent to 80 percent of his total files.
- An investigation found the shredding violated five federal regulations but found no evidence of obstructing justice. The man was later removed from his job but remains at NOAA as an analyst, still making a six figure salary.