Federal prison officials have allowed Larry Nassar, the former US gymnastics doctor accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women, to avoid paying the financial penalties that are part of his sentence, even when he spent more than $ 10,000 of his Federal Bureau of Prisons account while he was behind bars, according to a new court file.
Details of the spending are contained in a motion by the prosecutor on Wednesday that seeks to force the Bureau of Prisons to hand over the current balance of Nassar’s prison account to help cover a court-ordered payment of $ 5,300 to the federal Fund for Victims of Crime.
Bureau of Prisons officials have required Nassar to pay only about $ 100 a year, according to court documents, or about $ 300 since he entered the federal prison system in late 2017 after pleading guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography.
During the same period, Nassar spent more than $ 10,000 through his government-run prison account that covers police station, email and telephone expenses, a situation that a former law enforcement official called an egregious example of how the agency fails crime victims.
“If the Bureau of Prisons does not enforce Larry Nassar, who is among the worst offenders, which inmates are held accountable?”
“Nassar has paid approximately $ 8.33 for his criminal monetary penalties per month, despite receiving deposits to his account during this period totaling $ 12,825,” said Assistant United States Attorney Joel Fauson’s filing. He reported Nassar’s checking account balance as $ 2,041.57 .
The Washington Post reported last month that the office allows inmates to keep unlimited amounts of money in their accounts and effectively protects much of that money from being collected by various entities, leaving the Justice Department in the strange position of having to file court cases to compel them.
“If the Bureau of Prisons does not enforce these policies with Larry Nassar, who is among the worst offenders, what inmates are held accountable?” said Jason Wojdylo, who retired from the U.S. Marshals Service months ago after spending years unsuccessfully trying to convince the Bureau of Prisons to force criminals to pay warrants and other debts.
Nassar, whose alleged victims include gymnastics star Simone Biles and several former Olympians, has seen $ 12,825 move through his prison account over the past three and a half years, according to court records, including two stimulus payments. related to covid-19 from the federal government for a total of $ 2,000.
“The idea that anyone in the Justice Department would allow this to happen is just disgusting,” said John Manly, an attorney for many of Nassar’s victims, including Biles, who withdrew from Olympic competition this week, citing mental stress. “The timing of this, with my client not being able to compete because of what happened to him, couldn’t be more disturbing … They are allowing the worst child predator in American history to spend thousands of dollars on himself and pay $ 8 a month to his victims. Something is completely broken and needs to be fixed. ”
A December 2017 court document related to Nassar’s federal guilty plea requires a minimum payment of $ 25 every three months to cover what he owes in federal judgments. “All monies received from income tax refunds, lottery winnings, judgments, and / or any other anticipated or unexpected financial gain to any pending court-ordered financial obligation must be applied,” the document says.
The court record says that Nassar has not paid any of the $ 57,488.52 that he was ordered to give to five of his victims in the child pornography case, who are identified only as Child 10, Child 11, Child 28, Child 29 and Child 30.
“They give the appearance that the Department of Justice places more importance on Nassar’s comfort than on collecting the debt from his victims.”
Additionally, state court records show Nassar still owes $ 834 in the Eaton County, Michigan case, in which he pleaded guilty to the child abuse charges.
Nassar, who is being held in a high-security prison in central Florida, is serving the equivalent of a life sentence on the state and federal charges, which together constitute one of the most egregious serial sexual abuse cases ever. end times. His victims say law enforcement and USA Gymnastics officials ignored the problem for years, allowing the abuse to continue.
The prison spending figures in the court filing indicate that Nassar is paying the minimum required by the Bureau of Prisons “inmate financial responsibility” program to maintain prison privileges, such as being able to use email and make phone calls. . At this rate, you would ultimately pay only about $ 500 of the $ 5,300 you owe because under federal rules, special appraisal debt is canceled after five years.
“The inaction of the officials of the BOP’s inmate financial responsibility program is outrageous,” Wojdylo said. “The young victims of this sexual predator had the opportunity to receive some financial reparation during the last 3 and a half years. Instead, BOP has allowed a nominal contribution of $ 25 every three months towards its debt, while presumably spending thousands of dollars on snacks and other perks. ”
Neither the Bureau of Prisons nor an attorney representing Nassar immediately responded to a request for comment.
Nassar is not the only one keeping money in his prison account. Nearly two dozen federal inmates have more than $ 100,000 each in their Bureau of Prisons accounts, and all inmate accounts totaled more than $ 100 million in May, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. to discuss internal data.
Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday that the details of Nassar’s spending “give the appearance that the Justice Department places more importance on Nassar’s comfort than on charging. the debt he owes to his victims. ”
The legislator urged Garland to “review the policies that facilitate this flagrant judicial error” and “implement corrective measures as soon as possible.”
“They are allowing the worst child predator in US history to spend thousands of dollars on himself and pay his victims $ 8 a month”
Some law enforcement officials from other federal agencies say the office should review those funds and seize money that inmates have been ordered to pay. The Bureau of Prisons responds that the Treasury Department’s selection rules that apply to banks do not apply to their prisoner accounts because the agency is not a financial institution.
The office, already plagued by staffing and administration problems, has defended its prisoner account system, saying it “encourages” inmates to pay what they owe.
Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Nassar’s latest revelations “disgusting” and accused the Bureau of Prisons of hindering his committee’s demands for a response.
Wednesday’s court filing marks the second time this month that a federal agency has been charged with failing Nassar’s victims.
A scathing report released on July 14 by the Justice Department inspector general found that FBI agents failed to adequately investigate allegations that Nassar was sexually abusing girls and women under the guise of medical treatments, apparently allowing dozens more people were victimized. When they clashed, FBI officials lied instead of admitting what they had done, the inspector general discovered.
Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 330 girls and women, including Olympians Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
The internal review of the FBI’s handling of the initial allegations against Nassar began in 2018, shortly after Nassar was sentenced to a 60-year term for possessing and receiving child pornography, and a state court sentence of 40 years. 175 years for assaulting girls.
After receiving the first set of allegations about Nassar from USA Gymnastics in 2015, FBI officials in Indianapolis, where USA Gymnastics is headquartered, decided to refer them to a satellite office in Lansing, Michigan, where Nassar was an employee of California State University. Michigan and where some of the abuse allegedly took place.
But the internal investigation did not find any documents to show that the referral occurred. FBI officials did not contact local law enforcement officers in Michigan to alert them to possible violations of state law by Nassar, the report concluded.
A year later, in 2016, USA Gymnastics officials brought the same allegations against Nassar to the FBI office in Los Angeles, and again the case went nowhere.
The inspector general found that while FBI agents in Los Angeles approached the issue more aggressively, they weren’t sure whether Nassar had violated any federal laws . At no point, the inspector general discovered, did the FBI in Indianapolis open a formal investigation or even an evaluation.
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