Secretary Locke to Appoint Special Master to Review NOAA Law Enforcement Cases, Restricts Use of the Asset Forfeiture Fund
On September 23, 2010, U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke announced sweeping reforms to increase accountability and transparency and strengthen the public’s trust in NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the General Counsel for Enforcement and Litigation. Locke, invoking his authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, announced he will appoint the Honorable Charles B. Swartwood, III (Ret.) to serve as Special Master to review enforcement cases the Commerce Department’s Inspector General identified in its most recent report as problematic, some dating as far back as 2001. Locke will also ask the Special Master to review the complaints that the IG received that were not discussed in the September Report to see if review of those complaints is also warranted. Judge Swartwood will make recommendations to Locke on whether to take action to modify or remit the penalties.
Judge Swartwood formerly served as Chief Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts and currently serves as the Chairman of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.